NY Times tech columnist David Pogue writes about the hate mail he gets from readers when he reviews a piece of software or hardware, and wonders how something so inanimate and commercial can get people so worked up:
In politics, scientists describe a communication theory called the hostile media effect. That’s when you perceive media coverage of some hot topic to be biased against your opinion, no matter how evenhanded the coverage actually is. In electronics, though, that effect is magnified by the powerful motivating forces of fear.
When you buy a product, you are, in a way, locking yourself in. You’re committing to a brand. Often, you’re committing to thousands of dollars in software for that platform, or lenses for that camera, or e-books for that reader. You have a deeply vested interest in being right. Whenever somebody comes along and says, in print, that there might be something better – well, that’s scary.
In that case, you don’t just perceive the commentator to be putting down your gadget. He’s putting you down. He’s insulting your intelligence, because that’s not the product you chose. He’s saying that you made the wrong choice, and all of those thousands of dollars of apps and lenses and books were throwing bad money after good. He’s saying you’re a sap.
Pogue’s full piece is here.