Study finds people are more rational and moral on smartphones than PCs

“A new study has found that your device of choice may influence how you make moral decisions when using it,” Stacy Liberatore reports for The Daily Mail. “Researchers have discovered that people who opt for a smartphone over a PC are more likely to make rational and unemotional decisions when met with a moral dilemma on their phone – whereas desktop users base their actions on intuition.”

“The team has suggested that this was a result of the increased time pressures and psychological distance that occur with a smartphone,” Liberatore reports. “The study, which is said to be one of the first, was conducted by City, University of London and explored how the digital age has impacted our moral judgments.”

“Researchers recruited 1,010 people and gave them a well-known moral dilemma known as the ‘Trolley Problem,'” Liberatore reports. “Researchers recruited 1,010 people and gave them a well-known moral dilemma known as the ‘Trolley Problem.’ The Trolley Problem is setup as a scenario that forces the person to make a choice to save the life of one or a larger group of people… the study suggests that even under conditions of time pressure, some digital contexts – such as using a smartphone -could trigger utilitarian decision-making.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Of course, the most rational and moral people use iPhones.

iPhone users don’t reward serial IP thieves by purchasing knockoffs of Steve Jobs & Co.’s brilliant work from the likes of Google, Samsung, etc.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]


  1. The study examined responses to moral dilemmas, but says nothing about rationality and morality per se. What’s more, the study didn’t compare brands of smartphones or PCs. It’s absurd to think consumers face a moral dilemma when they choose a smartphone. Take it to an extreme: does switching from Android to iOS change a sinner to a saint? The MDN take is tongue-in-cheek. I hope.

    1. Agreed, the study may also be biased by the situation in which the problem was presented. Depending on whether a person felt relaxed or under pressure while using a smartphone or PC (e.g. using smartphone while rushing around vs. sitting at a cafe or in working state of mind vs relaxation in front of a PC).

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