Sunday, February 18, 2007

Why me don't think good...

A few Mac users are pointing out politely how my travails with Vista could have been avoided. This leads to an obvious question: If Macs are so obviously stable, easy and reliable, why is their market share still so small?

I think the answer lies in the lack of choice compared to PC's - something Daniel Gilbert points out in "Stumbling on Happiness".

Inescapable, inevitable, and irrevokable circumstances trigger the psychological immune system, but as with the intensity ofsuffering, people do not always recognize this will happen. For example, college students in one study signed up for a course in black-and-white photography. Each student took a dozen photographs of people and places that were personally meaningful, then reported for a private lesson. In these lessons, the teacher spent and hour or two showing students how to print their two best photographs. When the prints were dry and ready, the teacher said that the student could keep one of the photographs, but that the other would be kept on file as an example of student work. Some students (inescapable group) were told that once they had chosen a photograph to take home, theywould not be allowed to change their minds. Other students were told that once they had chosen a photograph to take home, they would have several days to change their minds - and if they did, the teacher would gladly swap the photograph they'd taken home for the one they'd left behind. Students made their choices and took one of the photographs home. Several days later, the students responded to a survey asking them (among other things) how much they liked their photographs. The results showed that students in the escapable group like their photograph less than did the students in the inescapable group.Interestingly, when a new group of students was asked to predict how much they would like their photographs if they were or were not given the opportunity to change their minds, these students predicted that the escapability would have no influence whatsoever on their satisfaction with the photograph. Apparently inescapable circumstances trigger psychological defenses that enable us to achieve positive views of those circumstances, but we do not anticipate that this will happen.

So what does this have to do with PC's and Macs? The primary gripe about Macs is a lack of choices for software, add-on hardware, and expansion. In short, choosing a Mac limits our choice in the future. It must be noted this problem has been significantly reduced in recent models.

It turns out we will pay premiums today for an opportunity to change our mind tomorrow. (This is also why puts are so expensive) Often this love of freedom carries a strange cost - less happiness.

Mac users, I believe see their experience as positive even with the lack of choice because their brains work very hard to emphasize the positive aspects. This same phenomenon occurs within in strictly controlled groups (military), during deprivation (your Dad's Depression stories), and irrevocable choices (having children). The finality of the decision makes the brain see it differently and it usually chooses to make it seem OK.

PC users dread giving up the freedom of choices with Macs, and this certainly carries a cost. But this same idea could prove to be powerful as a world of new choices opens up to many in agriculture who suddently can afford options.

I doubt if we will end up much happier that we are now. In fact, the choosing process involved in investment choices could make us less happy.


Anonymous said...

Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

John, You're argument about limited choices is null/void. Buy any Mac and if you want to run windows vista on it, go right ahead. My son is studying engineering at UC and one of the high end programs that is "required" by one of the profs only runs in windows. He has a Macbook Pro. When he has work to do with that program, he runs XP Pro. For everything else, especially anything online he runs Mac OSX. No viruses, no queer windows problems, no spyware, no anti-virus software subscriptions, etc. Microsoft Office files are the same no matter what OS you are using. My daughter graduated from USAFA this past May and the first thing she did when she got back from Europe was to buy a Macbook and ditch her high end govt. mandated IBM Thinkpad (source of much frustration and headaches at the academy). She's in pilot training now and is very happy with the Mac. It does what a computer is supposed to do without all the hassles.

John Phipps said...


Like I said above, I agree that problem has been pretty well addressed. Still I am amazed I didn't find the the choice harder. Heck - I have switched political allegiances easier than this.

Of course, had I but known what Vista was going to entail...

That's the reason I am blogging about my sad experiences.