Cell phone addiction similar to that of other consumption pathologies like credit card misuse
The power of mobile phones is increasing with the latest survey showing that 88% adults aged 18 to 29 years go wireless using apps and especially texting which researchers from Baylor University say are driven by materialism and impulsiveness and can be compared to consumption pathologies like credit card misuse in their new study.
Dr. James Roberts, PhD, expert in consumer behavior is the Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing in the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University and author of study states “Cell phones are a part of our consumer culture.” He further notes that these wireless devices are not only a consumer tool but also a status symbol. “They’re also eroding our personal relationships,” he says.
Dr. Roberts along with Dr. Stephen F. Priog III, PhD, Associate Professor of Marketing and Chair of the Department of Marketing, Stenton Hall University and served as co-author of this study revealed that materialism and impulsiveness is the force behind cell phone addiction. According to Dr. Roberts cell phones are used as part of the apparent consumption ritual but also serve as a pacifier for impulsive tendencies of the user. He notes that impulsiveness plays a vital part in both behavioral and substance addictions.
This study is the first of its kind to examine the role that materialism plays in cellphone addiction. The main goal of this study was to examine the forces of technology addiction in college students according to the study’s background.
Past studies have indicated that young Americans aged 18 to 29 use their cell phones over half the time (58%) and 95% of those young adults use the text messaging feature on their phones. Young adults aged 18 to 24 on average receive 109.5 text messages daily equaling 3,200 per month. The average text messages in this age group are more than double for those aged 25 to 34 years old.
For this study researchers used data from self-reported surveys of business students at two U.S. universities. The students completed this survey in class using a paper and pencil questionnaire which contained measures of scales in which measured materialism, impulsiveness, and mobile phone and instant messaging addiction tendencies. In the initial survey 226 college students used cell phones but 46 of them did not use instant messaging so their responses were omitted out of the study leaving researchers with 191 usable surveys for their final sample.
The study’s results revealed that materialism and impulsiveness drive both a dependence on cell phones and instant messaging.
Dr. Roberts had said cell phones are accessible at any time, including during class, and possess an ever-expanding array of functions, which makes their use or over-use increasingly likely. A majority of young people claim that losing their cell phone would be disastrous to their social lives.
In closing Dr. Roberts states “At first glance, one might have the tendency to dismiss such aberrant cell phone use as merely youthful nonsense — a passing fad. But an emerging body of literature has given increasing credence to cell phone addiction and similar behavioral addictions.”
In their discussion the researchers had written “Viewing cell phone addiction from a consumer perspective, however, is a positive first step in increasing our understanding of cell phone and other technological addictions as consumption behaviors.”
This study appears in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions.
Facts and figures on past research came from Pew Internet and American Life Project.
Dr. Roberts has written over 65 journal articles and is often quoted in the news media including ABC World News Tonight, NPR, CNN, the New York Times, USA Today, Cosmopolitan Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, Yahoo! Finance, and U.S. News and World Report to name a few. He was also featured on the CBS Early Show in November of 2011.
Dr. Roberts authored the book “Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy,” and can be found in bookstores such as Barnes & Nobel.
Dr. Priog’s has appeared in such outlets as Journal of Macromarketing, International Marketing Review, Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, and Marketing Education Review.