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Emotional and aesthetic attachment to digital artefacts

Turner, Phil; Turner, Susan


Phil Turner

Susan Turner


We report a pair of repertory grid studies that explore the attachment people have for digital and nondigital
In the first study we found no clear distinctions between emotional attachment to digital and nondigital
artefacts: people are attached to their mobile phones in much the same way as to a childhood
teddy bear. There was also evidence that attachment and the physical availability or proximity of the
artefact were associated.
In the second study we examined the aesthetics of attachment to digital and non-digital artefacts.
Again the proximity or availability of the artefacts appeared to be important. Items that were carried
about or worn, such as wristwatches and laptops, were closely associated while TVs and games
consoles were not.
In all, there does not appear to be any qualitative differences between the attachment people have for
digital and non-digital artefacts. Nor do aesthetics appear to play a part in this attachment. However
the physical proximity of these artefacts is strongly associated with our (inward) feelings of
attachment to them, while we can also recognise the importance of this relationship to how we
(outwardly) present ourselves to the world and others.


Turner, P., & Turner, S. (2012). Emotional and aesthetic attachment to digital artefacts. Cognition, Technology and Work,

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2012-07
Deposit Date May 30, 2012
Publicly Available Date Jul 31, 2012
Print ISSN 1435-5558
Electronic ISSN 1435-5566
Publisher BMC
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Qualitative study; attachment; aesthetics; repertory grids;
Public URL
Publisher URL


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