Pink Stinks - at Least for Men

How Minimal Gender Cues Affect the Evaluation of Smartphones
  • Astrid CarolusEmail author
  • Catharina Schmidt
  • Ricardo Muench
  • Lena Mayer
  • Florian Schneider
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10902)


Based on the paradigm of “computers are social actors” (CASA) and the idea of media equation, this study aims to examine whether smartphones elicit social responses originally exclusive for human-human interaction. Referring to the stereotype of gender-specific colors, participants (n = 108) of a laboratory experiment interacted with a phone presented either in a blue (male) or a pink (female) sleeve to solve five social dilemmas with the phone always arguing for one of two options given. Afterwards, participants rated the femininity and the masculinity of the phone as well as its competence and trustworthiness. Furthermore, the participants’ conformity with the choice recommendations the phone made was analyzed.

Consistent with gender stereotypes, participants ascribed significantly more masculine attributes to the blue sleeved smartphone and more female attributes to the pink phone. The blue phone was perceived as more competent and participants followed its advice significantly more often compared to the pink sleeved smartphone. Results on how trustworthiness was perceived were only found for male participants who perceived the blue phone to be more trustworthy. In sum, the study reveals both the CASA paradigm and the psychological perspective on users to be fruitful approaches for future research. Moreover, the results also reveal practical implications regarding the importance of gender sensitive development of digital devices.


CASA Smartphones Gender stereotypes Media equation 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Astrid Carolus
    • 1
    Email author
  • Catharina Schmidt
    • 1
  • Ricardo Muench
    • 1
  • Lena Mayer
    • 1
  • Florian Schneider
    • 1
  1. 1.Julius-Maximilians University WuerzburgWuerzburgGermany

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