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Gina Florio
December 19, 2016 1:00 pm

We’re only human, so we get caught up in this cliché from time to time: The grass is always greener on the other side. As exciting as it is to see a new model of the iPhone come out, whatever model we currently have in our hands doesn’t have the same new, shiny feel that it did the first day we unwrapped it. In fact, recent studies have shown that we get so enthusiastic about the prospect of a new phone that we subconsciously sabotage ourselves — and accidentally-but-kind-of-on-purpose break our phone in order to get a new one free of guilt.

The study was published in American Marketing Association earlier this month, and it surveyed a dataset of 3,000 lost iPhones. Researchers found that the closer they got to the release date of the iPhone 5S, the more iPhone 5s were lost. The same rang true for iPhone 5S’s as they approached the new iPhone 6 coming out.

[subheaer]Professors Silvia Bellezza, Francesca Gina, and Josh Ackerman call this phenomenon the “upgrade effect.”[/subheader]

What happens is, when we know that something bigger and better is coming along, we don’t treat our devices with the same care as we once did. Other studies show that people actually become more reckless with their phones when there’s a new model just released, even if they don’t realize they’re being totally careless. They’re more likely to break the screen or just leave it behind in a taxi.

“We would feel guilty about upgrading without a reason,” Belleza said in a statement, “but if our current product were damaged or depleted, we’d have a justification to upgrade without appearing wasteful.”

Then, when we get to the point when our old phone is broken, lost, or just battered beyond repair, we smile and convince ourselves that we have no choice but to run to the Apple store and splurge on a brand new cell phone.

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