Whether it’s the latest iPhone or a next-generation smart speaker, many people can’t resist splurging when a new gadget is launched.
While gadget lovers are often seen as materialistic, a new study suggests that this isn’t the case.
Instead, researchers from Duke University suggest that people who love buying new devices simply love learning about new technology.
‘Despite the assumptions people hold about tech gadgets — namely, that they are materialistic purchases and that people who love gadgets are materialistic people — our results showed that gadget loving was related to personal growth,’ said Dr Justin McManus, lead author of the study.
While gadget lovers are often seen as materialistic, a new study suggests that this isn’t the case. Instead, researchers from Duke University simply suggest that people who love buying new devices simply love learning
In their study, the team set out to understand whether longing for the latest gadgets means you’re materialistic, or whether it promotes something more fulfilling.
A group of 926 participants took part in the study.
Firstly, participants were asked to rate whether they perceived a range of purchases as materialistic.
This included household cleaners, household appliances, self-improvement books, gadgets, running shoes, blue jeans, pet food, a subscription to a major national newspaper, a six-pack of beer, and a cinema ticket.
Next, participants were asked to rate why they typically purchase gadgets across the following motives – ‘I enjoy learning about them’, ‘I use them as a status symbol’, ‘I use them to affiliate with others’, ‘I use them to feel unique’ or ‘I use them to feel powerful.’
The results from the first part of the study revealed that gadgets were seen as the most materialistic items, followed by the six-pack of beer and the cinema tickets.
Conversely, household cleaners, pet food and household appliances were seen as the least materialistic items.
However, in the second part of the study, the researchers found that participants were most likely to purchase gadgets with the motivation of learning about them.
The results from the first part of the study revealed that gadgets were seen as the most materialistic items, followed by the six-pack of beer and the cinema tickets
‘This relationship was driven by people feeling more competent and it was more pronounced when people consistently prioritised engagement in their daily life, rather than pleasure,’ Dr McManus explained.
The researchers believe the findings could provide consumers with a ‘road map’ for how to yield the most well-being from their gadgets.
‘To maximize well-being from consumption, we encourage consumers to learn about new products; seek out gadgets that foster intrinsic enjoyment and particularly those that could lead to learning a new skill,’ the researchers wrote in their study, published in Personality and Individual Differences.
‘Gadget loving behaviors that can provide an ideal challenge will also be beneficial.
‘Additionally, people may also experience personal growth when gadget loving behaviors lead to perceived changes in the self.’
The study comes shortly after researchers at Ruhr University in Bochum found that for people who are materialistic, Facebook acts like a tool to help them achieve their goals.
The researchers surveyed hundreds of Facebook users on their social media activity, tendency toward materialism, and the objectification and instrumentalization of Facebook friends.
The team found that materialistic people use Facebook far more frequently than others, and with greater intensity, as a way to achieve goals and feel good about themselves.