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Possessions are going out of fashion. An endless stream of media reports claim millennials – that amorphous mass of people born in the 1980s and 1990s who have grown up with the internet and digital technology—are in favour of accessing rather than owning stuff.
And yet my research shows that owning possessions is still something millennials hunger for. It is just that these possessions are now digital rather than physical.
People - Users - Apps - Relationships - Services
People who become heavy users of the apps they download can develop deep relationships with these services, so deep that they take on what we call "psychological ownership" of them. This means they perceive each app as something that belongs just to them and has effectively become an extension of themselves. After using it frequently and adjusting the settings to their liking, it becomes "my app," even though their rights to use the service and transfer their data are actually restricted and their accounts can be terminated at any time.
Psychological ownership can benefit the companies because it leads users to take on valuable extra roles. In the real world, companies have long pushed for shoppers to give feedback, recommend their products and help other shoppers. App "owners" are willingly doing all of this in the digital sphere and often with more expertise and commitment than traditional consumers.
Colleagues - Phenomenon - Users - Music - Apps
My colleagues and I studied this phenomenon for users of music streaming apps such as Spotify and QQ Music and found that they went the extra mile in four ways. They provided services such as answering the queries of other users on internet forums or offering other information that would enrich the experience of users. They improved the app by giving the company feedback or taking part in the app's governance. They advocated for the app by championing it in public or defending it against critics....
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