New study conducted by Columbia Business School, researchers claim that we might actually be breaking our iPhones on purpose. They call it the “upgrade effect”, which involves us being subconsciously more callous with our phones when the newer model is about to arrive or is already available in the market.
Researchers, Silvia Bellezza, assistant professor of marketing at Columbia Business School, Francesca Gina, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and Josh Ackerman, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Michigan found that to avoid the guilt of vanity when buying a newer model, people are more likely to be less careful with their current ones so that they “have” to buy one when it breaks or gets lost by “accident.”
First, a dataset of 3,000 lost iPhones, collected from IMEI Detective, was analyzed. They saw the trend that as the release date of the next model approached closed, the number of reported lost phones rose uncharacteristically.
In another online survey from 602 mobile phone owners, which also included iPhones, the researchers noted that people are more negligent towards their phones closer to an upgrade date. The researchers controlled the variables of the price paid, purchase method, and value depreciation.
The study was published in the American Marketing Association. Bellezza of Columbia said in a statement.
“We would feel guilty about upgrading without a reason—but if our current product were damaged or depleted, we’d have a justification to upgrade without appearing wasteful. So, we use our phone in the rain or leave our laptop behind at airport security without being aware that our carelessness has an underlying motivation.”