Americans turned in almost 700,000 old cars last year in ‘Cash for Clunkers’. Univ. of Michigan researchers found that a whole lot of them had a hard time doing so. Could it be that in our commercialized culture that we have indeed come to love our cars too much?
U of M’s professor Norbert Schwartz did research on how we treat, or feel for, our cars. He found that most of us currently suffer from some form of anthropomorphism, which is the name of the mental illness when we give inanimate objects human attributes.
Schwartz says we all have a friend who can’t let go of their old, beat-up car, no matter how unreliable it is. Jesse Chandler, psychology student at U of M, added that even though we all know our cars, computers, appliances, etc. are inanimate, we sometimes treat them like they are alive. And if we were totally honest with ourselves we would have to admit that we’ve at least once pled with our computer, argued with our washing machine or felt love for our sports car.
But Schwartz and Chandler’s research, cited in The April Consumer Psychology Journal, found that even the slightest incidental cues to suggesting human qualities in a product can make us reluctant to trade it in or get a new one. They further stated that once we have embraced the product as being ‘alive,’ it no longer matters how well it operates because we now have made an emotional bond.
Chandler said it’s very much the same as if we had a cranky old friend; we wouldn’t just replace them.
Lifehack.org‘s Phil Cohen said it’s perfectly normal to want to keep a new car shiny or to show it off to friends, but there are times when mere infatuation can turn into outright obsession.
Here are Cohen’s clues to see if we are spending ‘too much time’ with our cars!
You’ve given your car a name
Of course, we’ve all probably called our car a choice name or two when they won’t start in the morning. But are you always calling your vehicle by the pet name you’ve given it? Or referring to your vehicle as ‘her’ rather than ‘it”? If so, we can be sure that you are spending far too much time on your car. It’s pretty typical to have a nickname for your car, but seriously naming it is another story.
You’re an avid car buffer
Is your every spare minute spent detailing your car; washing, waxing and buffing? Whether your car is brand spanking new or a ‘classic’, cleaning your car more than once a week is just plain giving your vehicle excess attention.
Of course, there may be exceptions, like if you are in a high-profile business, and your vehicle is part of that image, or if you have to drive in overly dirty conditions. Other than that, keep it down to cleaning your car weekly.
You continually show your car off
Are you always showing your car off to your friends, colleagues, and family? If you do then, that’s a giveaway that you are becoming obsessed with your vehicle. Showing it off when you just bought it, or recently updated or modified it is considered normal. Or if it’s a ‘classic’ that people have asked you about, is normal. But showing off or bragging about your vehicle more often than that will have them thinking you are completely wrapped up in your car.
You’re always modifying your car
Do you buy specialty seat covers, floor mats and dangling rear view mirror decorations? Or, have you added flashy gold linked chain-rimmed license plate frames? If so, then this is yet another sign that you are spending too much time on your car.
You’re spending a great deal of money on your car
Modifications to your car can add up quickly. And if you are spending more money to spiff up your vehicle than you are on your family, then you are obsessed with your car. And, your family could most likely benefit from you reevaluating your priorities.
You’re spending too much on repairs
Is is possible that you are you neglecting your family because you are always working on your vehicle? Are you throwing good money away on a car that is no longer useful because you can’t bare the thought of giving ‘her’ up? Well, then you are truly obsessed with your car, and should consider investing in a new or newer one that won’t rob your friends and family of time and attention.
There’s a security alarm in your garage
Everyone can benefit from a security system. However, if you have a security alarm in your garage and not have one in your home, then you can be assured you are obsessed with your car.
If you can relate to these signs, then you are spending an unhealthy amount of time with your car. Try to take a step back. Re-evaluate the big picture of your life. Remember that can we not take it with us. But in this life, the only thing we leave behind for our family and friends is what we have given of ourselves.