Why do people buy gadgets?

Posted by Nigel Constantine

Psychology students have just completed a study which suggests that our desire to own gadgets is inversely proportional to the actual use they will get once we do.

Jeffrey Vietri , a psychology student at Rutgers University, became curious about the phenomenon when he found himself desiring to own a salad spinner.  After buying one it sat in the back of the cupboard until he got around to throwing it out.

Vietri, Gretchen Chapman, his faculty adviser and Janet Schwartz, another grad student, carried out interviews of several hundred students and found that if you desire a gadget it is almost certain that you don't need it and will never use it.

Their study, published in the journal Social Influence, found that nearly two thirds of the time people overestimate how much they will use that must-have gizmo. The study found that if people talk about their purchases with others first, they were less likely to buy a daft gadget.

It is not because another person will know any better, it is just that telling someone that we are thinking of buying an iPhone, or similar gadget makes us realize that we are probably wasting our cash.

In situations where another person knew more about the gadget, they would pour salt, scorn or possibly concentrated hydrofluoric acid on the idea and a person would no longer wish for it.

In other words even a stranger knows better than you if what you are wishing for will end up in the trash bin.