People are self-indulgent creatures and have been trained into “needing” the newest phone as soon as it is released despite the handset not really having any new features that they’ll actually use. Some tech-loving individuals try to rationalize buying the brand new model by saying their phone works slow and some people even go so far as to “accidentally” break or lose their phone.
A Columbia Business School study found that people are purposely or subconsciously more likely to break or lose their phones if a newer model is ready to come out which allows them to justify an upgrade.
The professors behind the study call this phenomenon the “upgrade effect.” The researchers supported the “upgrade effect” theory through several studies including viewing data of 3,000 lost iPhones courtesy of IMEI Detective. They discovered that the number of reported lost phones increases closer to the release date of the upcoming model.
As Mashable reports, the number of iPhone 5 devices reported lost (red line) peaks around August which is close to Sept. 20, 2013 when the iPhone 5S was released. Similarly, the iPhone 6 was released on Sept. 19, 2014 close to where the number of iPhone 5S devices reported lost (blue line) peaks.
Those behind the study, Silvia Bellezza (assistant professor of marketing at Columbia Business School), Francesca Gina (professor of business administration at Harvard Business School), and Josh Ackerman (assistant professor of psychology at the University of Michigan), also utilized an online survey of 602 mobile phone owners which found that the availability of an upgrade would lead to product neglect.
The upgrade effect has even been noticed by wireless companies including Virgin Mobile who created this TV commercial titled “Happy Accidents,” where phone owners “accidentally” see their phones get destroyed or lost.
Next time you lose your phone at the bar, don’t beat yourself up over your irresponsible blackout drunk gaffe. Instead, chalk it up to your inner consumer desires that subconsciously made you leave your phone at the bar and totally not the eight palomas that you had.