Digital Distraction: Consumer Mobile Device Use and Decision Making

55 Pages Posted: 22 May 2014 Last revised: 19 Feb 2016

Michael Sciandra

University of Pittsburgh - Katz Graduate School of Business

Jeffrey Inman

University of Pittsburgh - Katz Graduate School of Business

Date Written: February 16, 2016

Abstract

This research investigates the impact of consumer-owned mobile device use on decision-making. We build on the limited prior research on mobile technology in consumer research by considering the differing ways consumers utilize mobile devices at the point of decision. In particular, we conceptualize and examine two major categories of mobile device use: task-unrelated and task-related use. This demarcation is based upon the relationship between the mobile device usage and the decision situation. Using data from both field and experimental settings, we demonstrate that depending on use, mobile devices can act as a double-edged sword with either positive or negative implications for consumers. From a substantive perspective, this work is important because mobile technologies are a fast-growing communications medium and consumers are becoming increasingly reliant on these technologies in their daily lives. From a theoretical perspective, understanding the negative role that mobile technologies play in shaping consumer decision-making extends the research on distraction beyond the context of driving. In particular, we demonstrate the general deleterious effect of mobile use on decision-making even for routine decisions. Furthermore, we identify positive effects on decision-making by highlighting mobile device’s utility as a decision aid.

Keywords: mobile technology; smartphones; distraction; consumer behavior, decision quality, technology paradox

JEL Classification: D12, M31, O30, R20

Suggested Citation

Sciandra, Michael and Inman, Jeffrey, Digital Distraction: Consumer Mobile Device Use and Decision Making (February 16, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2439202 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2439202

Michael Sciandra

University of Pittsburgh - Katz Graduate School of Business ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

Jeffrey Inman (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - Katz Graduate School of Business ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

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