Recent research suggests that people who use high-tech devices like the new iPhone are perceived in the workplace as an innovative, tech-savvy leader.
By Jack Rosenberger
If you want people to see you as a tech savvy and innovative leader, recent research suggests you should buy the new iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.
There are plenty of good reasons to buy either iPhone. Both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sport a larger screen (4.7 and 5.5 inches, respectively), increased storage capacity (up to 128GB), and a processor that's 25 percent than its predecessor—not to mention an improved camera with an all-new sensor. These are compelling reasons to spend up to $499 on one of Apple's new phones, but there's another factor that has nothing to do with either model's improved specs or stylish, curved body: Namely, people who use the newest high-tech devices, like the iPhone 6 Plus or Apple Watch, are favorably viewed as both leaders and as authorities on other subjects, according to recent impression management research.
Published earlier this year, "Looking Innovative: Exploring the Role of Impression Management in High-Tech Product Adoption and Use," a paper by Steve Hoeffler, a professor of marketing at Vanderbilt University, and Stacy Wood, a professor of marketing at North Carolina State University, found that "the use of new high-tech products can be a surprisingly effective social signal of one's 'tech savvy' and personal innovativeness." In addition, the research found that an individual's high-tech device usage "significantly increases positive evaluations of secondary traits such as leadership and professional success."
Translation: Using the latest high-tech device, like the new iPhone, leads others to view you as innovative, tech savvy and a leader.
An Unexpected Advantage for Women
Interestingly, this benefit produces a stronger advantage for women than for men, as the former were perceived even more favorably than latter when using high-tech products, according to Hoeffler and Wood's research. "We found that it was greater for women," says Hoeffler, "because it was counter stereotypical."
In one of the Hoeffler-Wood experiments, actors were videotaped in two different workplace situations; one in which they took a note and used an old-fashioned paper calendar and one in which they took a note and used an electronic calendar. When test subjects watched the videos, they "overwhelmingly viewed the actors using the electronic calendars as being more authoritative." Likewise, in another experiment, the test subjects viewed the resumes of job applicants which were similar, except for the hobbies section, which were manipulated so some applicants appeared as high tech and others didn't. Again, the job candidates with high-tech hobbies were viewed more positively.
Hoeffler and Wood's research dovetails with the age-old truism that people judge others by their appearance. So, if your presence in the workplace is often accompanied by the new iPhone or a similar high-tech toy, you can be confident that most everyone else in the workplace, ranging from the helpdesk stewards in your department to your colleagues in the C-suite, will see you in a more favorable light.
Photo credit: iPhone 6, left, and 6 Plus. Photo courtesy of Apple.
About the Author
Jack Rosenberger is the managing editor of CIO Insight. You can follow him on Twitter via @CIOInsight. To read his previous CIO Insight blog post, "Every Organization Needs a Data Analytics Champion," click here.