Couldn’t be without it


Observa has just concluded a survey in five European countries (Italy, Germany, UK, Norway and Portugal) on the most common technology objects: what are the most widespread and what are those that people consider indispensable in five areas of daily life (entertainment, communication, home and health).

The four leading devices for Europeans are: in the area of Entertainment the Personal Computer (43,7% could absolutely not do without it), in the area of communication the Car/Motorbike (41,8%), in the home area the Refrigerator (46,6%), in the health area the Thermometer (70,4%).

There are differences in relation to gender and age, with males more sensitive to the importance of devices such as the PC or the Internet; the mobile phone is the top object for young people between 15 and 20 years of age. Subjects with an higher educational degree choose also more frequently the PC and the Internet, and less frequently the VCR/TV as the most indispensable objects in entertainment and communication.

In spite of general clear and consistent trends, subjects from different countries display a certain diversity of opinion and attitudes regarding the importance of technology objects. In the area of entertainment, Germans deem of greater importance a tool like the PC, comparatively neglected by Italian and UK respondents. The VCR, ranked as the top device for entertainment in the UK and indicated by one third of Italian respondents over three, is much less frequently cited in the other three countries. In the area of communication, car and motorbike even more visibly outpace all other objects in Italy; they are instead regarded as less important in countries like Norway and Germany. In Germany also the mobile phone seems to be almost neglected as the top device, while in Norway one subject over four consider it mobile phone to be the most essential object for communication.

The survey was carried out in September-October 2002, interviewing by phone a representative sample of 2000 subjects aged over 15 in five European countries: UK, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Norway. The sample was stratified by gender, age, and size of the city of residence. The study was part of the European project “Couldn’t be without It”, which aims at communicating science by way of the most familiar technology objects, funded by European Commission within the 5th Framework Programme. The study was conudcted by an international team of ten researchers (sociologists and psychologists) with the scientific supervision of Massimiano Bucchi (University of Trento), Federico Neresini and Giuseppe Pellegrini (University of Padua).