Smartphones: "Easy", "Portable" and "Fast"? The Impact of Device Stereotypes on Cognition

  • Madeleine Steeds

Student thesis: Phd


Stereotyping in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) has traditionally been applied to the end-user, to exemplify the types of people who may use a given technology or device. However, recent research has indicated that devices themselves may be stereotyped by users, but this prior research has been limited to just one stereotype model. Research from psychology suggests that stereotypes can be used as cognitive shortcuts to preserve cognitive resources, and allow other information to be processed faster. A study has further suggested that perceptions of the technological device being used can cause cognitive processes to be biased towards behaviour in keeping with that stereotypical view. Research in this domain is limited though, and there is little investigation into the extent to which devices are stereotyped, as well as the extent to which these stereotypes can influence human cognition. This thesis therefore aims to investigate the stereotypes and associations held about four everyday computing devices, and how these associations influence human cognition. To do this, the thesis first investigates existing literature, comparing the effect of different devices on one cognitive process (memory). A survey is then carried out investigating how different devices are used, and how those devices are stereotyped in terms of hedonic and utilitarian qualities, the stereotype content model, and free association. The results of this survey are then used to investigate the impact of two devices on two cognitive process (information processing and memory). The findings of this thesis suggest that there are common trends in the ways devices are stereotyped and perceived. Furthermore, performance in tasks assessing cognitive abilities is affected when the stimuli used in the task is associated with the device being used to complete the task. The findings of this thesis therefore expand current understanding of the stereotypical properties of everyday computing devices. They further provide evidence of these stereotypical views influencing human cognition in cognitive domains not previously explored in this fashion.
Date of Award31 Dec 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorSarah Clinch (Supervisor) & Caroline Jay (Supervisor)


  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Cognition
  • Stereotypes

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