by Diann Daniel

Are Mac Lovers Better Than Everyone Else?

Jan 29, 20083 mins

Owning a Mac indicates more than a love for shiny eye-candy tech and simple user interfaces.


Mac owners are more likely than the rest of the population to be individualistic, competitive, and smug. So says a survey of 7,500 respondents by Mindset Media.

Those who claimed a Mac as their primary computer were found to be “more liberal, less modest, and more assured of their superiority than the population at large.”

Survey respondents who are highly open-minded (Mindset media calls them “Openness 5’s”) are those who “seek rich, varied and novel experiences, believing that life and intellectual curiosity contribute to a life well-lived.” These Openness 5’s are also 60 percent more likely to own a Mac.

Mac owners scored low on “dogmatism,” which (among other things) means they “disdain so-called moral authorities, especially the conservative kind.” (Great news for managers.) Mac owners are also competitive and precise, says the study, and think themselves “exceptional” people.

That association of Mac as tool for the free-spirited, smug, creative individualist is backed by the Mac vs. PC commercials. Wrote John Martellaro in the MacObserver blog (long before the Mindset Media study was published):

Justin Long (the Mac), by his jeans and T-shirt, represents a machine that promotes freedom and freedom of expression. He also represents a computer designed for people full of enthusiasm and creativity. The suggestion is that using such a computer leads to the holy grail of computer life: self-respect, self-confidence, and self-realization.

John Hodgman (the PC), by his clothing, represents a machine associated with corporate repression and routine. The suit coat reminds us not of individuals who wear them but of the corporation that tells us what computer we’re allowed to have on our desk and says ‘Don’t think for yourself and don’t use your tools with passion. Just get to work!’

I checked in via email with Web 2.0 guru and blogger Stowe Boyd to find out if he has a Mac and to hear his thoughts on the Media Mindset study and the “Mac personality.” (If you’ve ever met him, you know the traits mentioned in the study–individualistic, confident, etc.—describe him to a T.)

As expected, he does have a Mac and plenty of Apple gear. Considering himself an “elegance bigot,” like (David Pogue who said more or less, “Bring on something with a better design, and I will switch”) and an “Openness 5,” Stowe wrote:

Management would be well-served to have these sort of creatives in their companies, but many companies cannot hold them, because the corporate life is often…designed to stifle curiosity.

Instead, he believes in organizations “where workers decide who to work with, how to execute broad charters, and basically pitch central management (as opposed to ‘upper’ management) for funding instead of having a ‘job.'” In his view, organizations will have to become marketplaces to actually hold onto Openness 5 (aka, Mac-using, creative) types.

And why would you want to hold onto people who disdain authority and think themselves superior?

One thought is this: Their tendency to “be conceited or arrogant” may be balanced by their creativity and highly perfectionistic nature.

And at least you know they have good taste.

What do you think?

Diann Daniel