Do you really love your iPhone?

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In this article from The New York Times titled, "You Love Your iPhone. Literally." the author, a branding consultant, describes how he has used functional magnetic resonance imagining (fMRI) tests to determine the neurological response to popular brands. In one example, he explains how he conducted an fMRI experiment to determine if iPhones are truly addictive. In the experiment, he used 16 subjects, 8 women and 8 men between the ages of 16 to 25. They were shown separate clips of the audio of a ringing iPhone and a video clip of a ringing and vibrating iPhone. In both tests, the audio and visual cortices of the subjects' brains showed fMRI activity. Additionally, the insular cortex, a region of the brain associated with feelings of love and compassion were activated.

From these observations, the author makes that claim that the subjects did not show the signs of addiction, but instead were experiencing feelings of love for their iPhones. If we examine this claim with the scientific thinking principle of correlation vs. causation, it is evident that the author's claims are sensationalized. Rather than examining alternative explanations for the fMRI results, the author immediately assumes that since the region of the brain associated with love showed activity, the subjects love their iPhones. It could be equally likely that it is not the iPhone for which the subjects are experiencing the feeling of love, but rather the association they have with the iPhone and their loved ones. Perhaps the sound of an iPhone ringing reminded them of a significant person in their life that might be calling.

This article provides a clear example of how the media tend to exaggerate claims to catch the readers' interest. A clear warning sign for this article is the title which makes an extraordinary claim. While articles like this are entertaining, the claims they make should not be accepted without some skepticism and scientific thinking.

Lindstrom, M. (2011, September 30) You Love Your iPhone. Literally. The New York Times. Retrieved September 30, 2001, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/01/opinion/you-love-your-iphone-literally.html?_r=1&src=ISMR_HP_LO_MST_FB

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This page contains a single entry by paul0578 published on October 1, 2011 1:09 PM.

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