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Our deepest sympathy: An essay on computer crashes, grief, and loss

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This research provides a qualitative elaboration of the research of Reeves and Nass (1996) and Ferdig and Mishra (2004), examining the ways in people relate to computers as social agents. Specifically, this paper investigates the ways in which humans, due to a natural tendency to anthropomorphize computers, may experience significant emotions of grief and loss when computers crash. A content analysis of narratives describing human reactions to computer crashes demonstrates that the metaphoric language used to describe computer failure frames humans' experience with computer loss in language that highlights the negative impact of human/computer interaction and that references Kubler-Ross's (1969) stage theory of grief: denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance.
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Keywords: COMPUTER; GRIEF; HUMAN-COMPUTER INTERACTION; LOSS; SOCIAL AGENT

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-12-01

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  • Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systems
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