I am curious to know if any research might have been done on this topic or if it is any way even described in scientific literature.
It's not uncommon for people to ascribe agency to inanimate objects and when objects "act" in ways that are contrary to the person's expectation (a computer that is loading files slowly, a car that won't start, an appliance that breaks frequently) some people can become angered and feel that this specific object is behaving maliciously towards them in particular.
Even when we rationally know that a computer program does not have consciousness and cannot intentionally target us we can still feel persecuted by it. I know there are a few cognitive biases that deal with incorrectly attributing malicious intent to other people (attribution bias, hostile attribution bias, etc) but I have not heard of one regarding inanimate objects and yet it clearly exists. As a software developer I find this interesting as it impacts user experience. As an example, if software attempts to be overly personable by calling a person by their name and interacting with them so as to give the illusion that the software is "alive" might it increase the potential for people to ascribe malice to it when it behaves in ways they feel it should not or when there are frequent errors.
I want to be clear I am not suggesting that people literally or consciously believe that inanimate objects are sentient and possess agency, but that is how they behave and likely what at some level increases their frustration. When a person, for example, takes a tool that has been on the blink for a while and out of frustration smashes it or tears it apart I do not find it unreasonable to believe that the relief they feel is a shot of dopamine that they are getting for "justly" punishing the tool for it's "behavior". How many times have we heard a child or maybe even an adult exclaim, "That thing hates me!" Rationally they know the thing in question is not conscious yet at some level they feel it is actively persecuting them.
A classic example is in a Canticle for Lebowitz when one of the characters is having issues with a computer that is constantly misbehaving exclaims,
"That thing-” he waved irritably toward the Abominable Autoscribe- "is a damned infidel or worse."
I was asked for scientific evidence, but I cannot provide any because that is in fact what I am asking about. Is this recognized as a cognitive bias and if so, has it ever been studied?
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