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That’s not just clumsiness at work. According to a study from the University of Michigan, it’s your psychology at work, attempting to help you justify the purchase of a faster, better phone model. (The study’s title is, “’Be Careless With That!’: Availability of Product Upgrades Increases Cavalier Behavior Toward Possessions.” It was published in the October 2017 Journal of Marketing Research.)
Ordinarily, associate professor of psychology Josh Ackerman says, when we lose or break a phone, we file a report. We ask our insurance to cover it, we cash in on our AppleCare coverage—we somehow report it. But when he studied the numbers over time, he discovered something bizarre: every time Apple or Samsung comes out with a new smartphone model, the number of broken phone/lost phone claims go down.
Josh Ackerman, associate professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, Skyped in to explain his study.
“And our interpretation of that was, once people wanted to start upgrading, they just cared less about the product that they currently had,” Ackerman says. “They’re causing damage to them, losing them, and so on, despite the fact that that is costly to them.”It’s our subconscious at work, he says. “People have this very strong desire to justify why they’re going to get a new product. If you already own a phone and it works just fine, but a new one comes out that seems really, really appealing, what do you tell yourself in order to convince yourself to get that new phone? Maybe you tell yourself, ‘Well, maybe my phone’s not working quite as well as I thought.’ Or maybe, ‘Oops, I dropped it on the ground and the screen cracked!’ Or, ‘Maybe I happened to leave it in a taxi.’ Those kinds of justifications might mean, ‘Oh, now I get to tell myself that I can really buy that new product.’”