I Love It, I’ll Never Use It: Exploring Factors of Product Attachment and Their Effects on Sustainable Product Usage Behaviors
Michael Christopher Kowalski, JungKyoon Yoon


Research on product attachment has shown that users tend to retain emotionally meaningful products longer and delay their disposal. This has been suggested to be more environmentally sustainable, though little empirical evidence of the actual long-term use of these products is available. Two studies sought to understand the factors of product attachment and their role in sustainable product usage behavior. Study 1 involved qualitative semi-structured interviews to understand users’ relationships with meaningful product possessions and how this connected to their long-term product use. Through an online questionnaire, Study 2 quantitatively investigated the relative roles of factors of product attachment in product usage behaviors. The results from both studies showed differing patterns of product use. While at times, products of attachment are used actively for their practical utilitarian purpose, at other times, they are set aside for more passive psychological reasons. In this passive use pathway, evidence was found of increased redundant product consumption to satisfy practical needs, contrary to expectations expressed in previous literature. Perceived irreplaceability of a product, while being most influential in stimulating higher levels of attachment, was associated with more passive use and redundant product consumption. This paper discusses implications for design practice with future research directions.

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