Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 87–96 | Cite as

The Media Equation Does Not Always Apply: People are not Polite Towards Small Computers

  • Mikael Goldstein
  • Gunilla Alsio¨
  • Jost Werdenhoff
Original Article


The Media Equation asserts that people treat and behave towards computers in much the same way as towards other people, for example regarding politeness. We report the results of a study investigating the validity of the Media Equation for PDAs and smart phones. Twenty-five users each performed seven tasks with one of four PDAs or a smart phone. None of the users had any prior experience with a PDA. Contrary to the postulations of the Media Equation, the number of “likes” decreased and number of “dislikes” increased in the computer present condition. Previous objective performance when interacting with a palm computer appears to account for subjective attitudes much more than computer absence/presence. It appears that degree of politeness might be performance-level dependent but this has to be reinvestigated before more firm conclusions can be drawn.

Key words: Cultural difference – Handheld computers – Media Equation – Objective performance – Politeness – Subjective attitudes 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mikael Goldstein
    • 1
  • Gunilla Alsio¨
    • 2
  • Jost Werdenhoff
    • 3
  1. 1.Ericsson Radio Systems AB, Kista, Stockholm, SwedenSE
  2. 2.Erga ergonomikonsult, Stockholm, Sweden (now at Seuseboard Technologies AB)SE
  3. 3.Now at Acando AB, Stockholm, SwedenSE

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