Digital Distraction: Consumer Mobile Device Use and Decision Making
55 Pages Posted: 22 May 2014 Last revised: 19 Feb 2016
Date Written: February 16, 2016
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: Suggested Citation