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With Black Friday looming on the horizon and the continued adoption of smartphones at earlier ages giving advertisers more opportunity than ever to promote both their bargains, and not-so-bargains. Let’s take a look at the psychology behind potential links between mobile phone use and some distinctly unhealthy purchasing patterns!
The Black Mirror
Mobile devices and smartphones have changed various aspects of our lives, including entertainment, work, social interactions, and education, with experts expecting mobile commerce sales to grow up to $700 billion by 2025. Many studies have identified the effect these devices are having on us, from sleep deprivation to adolescent anxiety, but now researchers have identified what they think is a link between smartphone use and compulsive shopping habits that might make you think twice about how much your phone is really costing your wallet!
Smartphone addiction is defined as the excessive use of smartphones characterised by uncontrolled usage, neglect of daily activities, and negative consequences for the user's life. It affects a person's social, physical, and psychological functioning.
Compulsive buying has been explored in recent years in relation to the online environment and is characterized by a loss of spending control and a feeling of gratification following purchase, and smartphones may act as an enabler for online compulsive buying behaviours due to their intriguing, stimulating and customised digital environments.
Altogether, this may facilitate the emergence and consequent satisfaction of those urges to purchase felt by compulsive buyers.
How mobile phone use affects your “flow state”
You might have already heard the term "flow state" before, but what exactly is it? Flow state is often described as being "in the zone" or "in the flow." It's a state of peak performance where you're completely focused, and in the moment. Time seems to slow down and you're able to do things that you normally wouldn't be able to do.
The authors of the study found that in general, smartphones undermine individuals' ability to achieve a flow state, through behaviours like phone checking – may interrupt the state of total concentration needed to experience flow.
However, while engaging in pleasant or enjoyable activities, smartphone users are likely to achieve a state of flow. And shopping, particularly online where anything can be found almost instantly, falls into this category for most!
Taking a time out
If you’re struggling with compulsive shopping behaviours, then the smartphone in your pocket might be part of the problem. Consider how much screen time you really need, and how much you actually spend looking at your phone. A break might be just the thing you need to establish some healthier smartphone habits!
One thing that’s proven to improve your health is education. If learning about the human mind and its inner workings is something that appeals to you, then you might be the perfect candidate for our psychology degree courses at the University of Bolton.