Cognition, Technology & Work

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 403–414 | Cite as

Emotional and aesthetic attachment to digital artefacts

  • Phil TurnerEmail author
  • Susan Turner
Original Article


We report a pair of repertory grid studies that explore the attachment people have for digital and non-digital artefacts. In the first study we found no clear distinctions between emotional attachment to digital and non-digital 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 difference 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.


Qualitative study Attachment Aesthetics Repertory grids 



Thanks to our anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful comments and to the students of the (MSc) User Experience and the (undergraduate) Interactive Media Design programmes at Edinburgh Napier University for their help with the data collection.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ComputingEdinburgh Napier UniversityEdinburghUK

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