'Be Careless with That!' Availability of Product Upgrades Increases Cavalier Behavior Toward Possessions

Posted: 8 Apr 2015

See all articles by Silvia Bellezza

Silvia Bellezza

Harvard Business School - Marketing Unit

Joshua Ackerman

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Francesca Gino

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Date Written: April 6, 2015

Abstract

Consumers are often faced with the opportunity to purchase a new, enhanced product (e.g., a new phone), even though the device they currently own is still fully functional. We propose that consumers act more recklessly with their current products and are less concerned about losing or damaging them when in the presence of appealing product upgrades. Careless behaviors and cognitions toward currently owned products stem from a desire to justify the attainment of upgrades without appearing wasteful. A series of studies with actual owners of a wide array of durable goods and evidence from a real-word dataset of lost Apple iPhones demonstrate how the availability of product upgrades increases cavalier behavior toward possessions. These patterns are moderated by motivation to attain the upgrade, such that consumers who are particularly interested in upgrading will be more careless with owned products relative to individuals who are less interested in upgrading. Moreover, we demonstrate that product neglect in the presence of upgrades can occur without explicit, careless intentions. Finally, theoretical and managerial implications of these findings are discussed.

Keywords: carelessness, product upgrade, ownership, justification

Suggested Citation

Bellezza, Silvia and Ackerman, Joshua and Gino, Francesca, 'Be Careless with That!' Availability of Product Upgrades Increases Cavalier Behavior Toward Possessions (April 6, 2015). Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 15-077. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2590322

Silvia Bellezza

Harvard Business School - Marketing Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Joshua Ackerman

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Francesca Gino (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

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