'Mac people' more open, liberal than PC users

A study finds that Mac users are more liberal and open-minded than PC users.

People who prefer Apple's Macintosh computers over PCs have long been considered to be on the artsy, hip end of the personality spectrum -- and now a study proves that "Mac people" indeed are more liberal and open-minded than average folks.

According to Mindset Media, people who purchase Macs fall into what the branding company calls the "Openness 5" personality category -- which means they are more liberal, less modest and more assured of their own superiority than the population at large. Mindset Media helps companies with strong brands develop ads targeted to people based on personality traits or people's "mindsets," and does research to that effect.

So-called Openness 5 types tend to seek rich, varied and novel experiences, according to the company, and believe that imagination and intellectual curiosity are as important to life as more rational or pragmatic endeavors. They also are receptive to their own inner feelings and may experience life with more emotional intensity.

The company uses Nielsen Online's panel for the Mac mindset study, the results of which are based on responses from 7,500 participants.

It's no great secret that Macs have always been popular with creative types -- the computers have been the mainstay of creative agencies and video- and sound-editing houses for years. This probably has as much to do with the fact that Apple and partners have delivered popular software for graphic and multimedia designers and artists as it does with the contemporary industrial design Macs have long reflected.

Mac users are quick to agree there is definitely a mindset among their kind of people, and aren't offended by a company profiling them according to their enthusiasm for Apple computers.

MacBook Pro user Reatha Braxton said much of the Mac mindset stems from how Apple has projected the image of its products through advertising -- natch, as she runs her own New York-based media planning and buying agency, Braxton Strategic Group.

"The whole [Mac] package -- the advertising, the design, the whole image of that is creativity," she said. Braxton, who has been in the advertising business for more than 20 years, said Macs were almost exclusively used in ad agencies, from the people designing the ads to top executives like "the CFO to the CEO."

As for the idea that Mac users possess an air of superiority, Braxton was less inclined to agree. She said that Macs actually have a pragmatic draw for their faithful because "most people who use Macs will tell you they are smarter machines than PCs, and they want to take advantage of that."

Still, Braxton did acknowledge that the idea of using the PC "alternative" has an element of cool factor that lures creative types to use Macs over more run-of-the-mill PCs. "It's cooler not to be a lemming," she said.

Igor Berstein, a computer programmer for a Web-based startup in New York, also agreed there is a Mac mindset, but he doesn't think he necessarily fits into it. He started using his MacBook Pro because, with the Unix base of the OS starting with Mac OS X, it was more convenient for him as a Linux user than a PC was.

But "since Apple thinks a lot about aesthetics, style-oriented people go for [Macs]," Berstein said. Macs also are more expensive than PCs, so people in the middle-class or upper-class who have accumulated a certain amount of wealth are mostly likely the people who can afford them, he said.

Berstein also noted that people who care more about brands are also more likely to purchase Macs over PCs. While the term "PC" refers to a computer architecture tied to more than one vendor, Macs are a subbrand tied to the strong Apple brand -- which to some is a catalyst for purchasing a Mac in and of itself, he said.

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Elizabeth Montalbano

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