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Website Survey: 'Mac vs PC' stereotypes broadly true

updated 07:25 pm EDT, Fri April 22, 2011

PC users are from Mars, Mac users from Venus

An unscientific survey conducted by the survey and recommendation website has reinforced some data already broadly known about Mac people versus Windows people -- and also shown up some surprising differences and similarities. The website used answers from over 300,000 respondents on this latest survey, and also compared the answers to a similar match-up it did in November 2009. One clear result: Apple's casting of younger, more casual Justin Long as a Mac and John Hodgman as the stuffier, older PC in the long-running "Mac and PC" ads was no accident.

The survey began by asking people if they considered themselves "Mac" people or "PC" people. Of the 388,315 users who answered, 52 percent self-identified as PC people (a very slight increase from the 2009 poll, where 50 percent exactly identified themselves as such) and 25 percent called themselves Mac people (almost the same as in 2009). Another 23 percent chose "Neither," which was also taken to represent that they didn't see themselves in that way regardless of what platform they used (and of course, many people use both platforms).

Of the 299,000 people who identified with one platform or the other, Hunch then cross-referenced those respondents with other questions they had answered as part of a more general survey the website does in order to make media recommendations. The data suggests things many Mac owners broadly knew: that they see themselves as hip, liberal, verbally-oriented, more adventurous and more creative, while PC people see themselves as very mainstream, conservative (in the general sense of the term, not just politically), math-oriented and less comfortable overall with computers and technology.

These strong separations of self-perception -- suggestive of left-brain versus right-brain dominance patterns -- may be the root of why the two groups tend to look at each other in such critical lights. From a PC person's perspective, Mac users can seem trendy, shallow, arrogant or pretentious -- the favourite soft drink picked by Mac users was San Pellegrino Limonata, while the PC users chose Pepsi -- and from a Mac person's view, PC users tend to be rigid, close-minded, conformist and boring.

This broad trend continued in almost every cultural area: PC users prefer Hollywood movies, Mac users like indie films better; Mac users are 80 percent more likely to be vegetarian; PC users prefer Harleys to Vespas by 70 percent; PC users love the cute captioned cats of I Can Haz Cheezburger, while Mac users get their smiles from Boing Boing; and while both group consider jeans a mainstay clothing item, PC people make them a clear favorite, while Mac people tend to prefer "retro" or designer duds.

The survey also found that Mac users are better educated (67 percent of Mac users completed a four-year degree, while only 54 percent of PC users did so), more liberal (58 versus 36 percent), more urban (52 percent said they live in a city while PC users tended to live in rural or suburban areas) and younger (18-34 demographic) than their PC counterparts (who tended to be more in the 35-49 demographic).

PC users, the survey found, like fitting in over "making their own mark" (twice as often as Mac users); prefer staying at home to "partying"; enjoy mainstream TV shows (such as "The Tonight Show") and TV channels (The History Channel, Syfy, USA) much more than Mac users (who tend towards edgier shows like "Parks and Recreation" and channels like Bravo, Showtime and HBO); they prefer to be "later adopters" of technology and are twice as likely to find it a "struggle" that's akin to learning a foreign language, and PC users tend to stick with well-established brands in everything from restaurants to painters, while Mac users bent towards the newer, more fashionable trends.

Since itself might be thought of as a "trendy, hip" or maybe "pretentious" site, it would by its nature tend to draw an audience of people comfortable and engaged with technology and related topics, which may also have skewed the results in a more liberal direction. PC users picked their favorite newscast as MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" followed by PBS' "News Hour" and ABC's "20/20"; Mac users said they get their news from "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" and "60 Minutes."

In some areas, however, Mac people and PC people tend to concur. When asked what was the funniest TV show on the air currently, both groups picked "The Office" (though Mac users were more definitive on this point; PC people also strongly liked "South Park"). Both groups enjoy classic literature alongside newer books, both tended to pick The New York Times as their favorite newspaper (though PC people were more split, also liking USA Today), and there was only a marginal difference between the two groups in favorite snacks (PC people slightly prefer sweet over salty, Mac users the opposite).

The one area of the poll that drew almost identical levels of agreement was on the question of the value of "Mac versus PC" arguments: both groups by a wide margin said such discussions were "utterly pointless" (43 percent Mac versus 50 percent PC), and in both groups only a slim number called them "invigorating and important" (14 percent Mac, eight percent PC). [via]

by MacNN Staff




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  1. facebook_Clarence

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Apr 2011



    I don't fit into a lot of these stereotypes, but I lean more to the PC side. Probably because I run Windows 7 Professional on my Macs. I didn't even recognize any of the foods on the Mac side.

    - Sent from my Android device.

  1. chas_m



    I'm Bi-Platform, apparently :)

    There are things I like on both "sides" of that survey, but the whole survey in total does show a deep division in one's outlook on life between the two groups. While I'm totally Mac in my home (wouldn't even install Windows on a partition), I think what this shows more than anything is that personal happiness and satisfaction is possible with either the "hip" or "safe" mindsets -- a good reminder that everyone's path is their own and there is no one "right and true" way.

    See, this is how I know I'm more of a Mac person -- I just went all Zen on ya there. :)

  1. JeffHarris

    Joined: Dec 1969


    SO, what else is new?

    Pee Sea users are all dorks.

  1. Salty

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I don't think...

    I don't think that this really shows what a PC user is, I think this just shows what a non-Mac user is. Apple appeals to the high end, the educated, and the people who aren't scared of owning something that not everyone else already owns. They're also willing to pay more for quality. Windows has market share because they're cheap, and so they appeal to people who say, "It's just as good for the same price." Of course when they say, "It's just as good" what they really mean is, "I under stand both equally poorly."

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I detect a faint odor here.

    Not sure, but I think I smell a little click-bait. Or maybe it's just a dead rat.

  1. SierraDragon

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Key Words: "unscientific survey"

    " would by its nature tend to draw an audience of people comfortable and engaged with technology and related topics, which may also have skewed the results."

    Like SR said, click-bait.

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    How about this for a hijack?

    What Fandroids say: "mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git:// ; repo sync ; make"

    What Apple fanbois say: "It just works."

  1. himistu22

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Salty, totally agree

    You are so right. I create applications for large companies and most of the users of PCs say that. It is hard because I try to make the most flexible and powerful systems for these companies and PC users just say, "well, it works fine that way. Just leave it like that!" So now, and this is the truth, when I start work with a new company, the first thing I ask is who runs a mac, either personally or in the office? That person, I rarely care what position they are in (unless it is the janitor, no offense to the janitors out there), becomes my application review point man/woman.
    But as I read this I think my transformation from the Dark Side isn't complete yet. I still watch msnbc, Racheal, PBS but I will not miss an episode of the Daily Show. What I find is weird is that most of my PC friends never watch PBS... they are sitting on the Republican side, defund it and say good bye.

  1. chas_m



    Rachael Maddow

    As far as Rachael's prominent position in the poll, I can only guess that the more liberal-minded PCers (and there are plenty of them) tend to go to sites like

    Don't fall into the trap of Mac=Liberal and PC=Conservative. Not only is it not true, it's a path that leads to other really bad assumptions. I think it's much more a right brain/left brain thing, specifically BECAUSE left/right brain dominance is not so black-and-white; almost everyone shows some characteristics of the other hemisphere in prominent areas, even if they tend towards one side or another. Pigeonholing is for pigeons, basically. :)

  1. chris2519

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The ads were genius.

    The ads were totally responsible for me switching. I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars (seriously, no less than $20K) on Apple products since making the switch back in '07. And it all started because I didn't want to be "the doughy guy."

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