Survey Study: Mobile Phones as Fashion Accessories?

My goals for this post are to further understand and relay the immense influence fashion has in our contemporary world and to expand upon new mediums in which the influence clearly exist, which can be backed up by survey data. The topic for my posts is the influence fashion has on different media outlets such as film, television or social media. I found a fantastic example of a study that exists within the parameters of my topic. This work focuses on the research question of whether or not people in both the United States and Japan treat their mobile phones as fashion accessories in addition to  communication tools. This study, named Mobile phones as fashion statements: evidence from student surveys in the US and Japan , was executed by James E. Katz and Satomi Sugiyama from Rutgers University in New Jersey. The study was published in 2006 by Sage Publications.

The main results of Katz and Sugiyama’s study can be summarized into a few main points. They concluded that in many cases, cell phones are valued via fashionable perception rather than functionality. Also, the study found that perceptions of mobile phones vary dramatically between people that are users of the devices and people who are non-users. Lastly, it is noted that the data retrieved from the US and the data retrieved from Japan have consistent findings: the symbolic meaning of mobile phones are relatively equal in both areas of the world.

This particular survey was given in two different locations: one in America and one in Japan. The survey given in America consisted of 254 people and was administered during a class at a university, so all the participants were college students. Of the 254 people, 161 were female and 93 were male. 95% of the sample was between the ages of 18 and 21. Of the people surveyed, roughly 53% were Caucasian, 24% were Asian or Pacific Islander, 15% were African American, 5% were Latino and 3% were Middle Eastern. Geographic information was not provided. Educational background was not provided outside of the fact that all participants were college students. The survey given in Japan consisted of 236 people and was administered at a university in Tokyo. Of the 236 people, 79 were female and 156 were male, with one person non-specified. 95% of the sample were between the ages of 18 and 21. Of the 236, 98% of the sample were Japanese. The races of the other 2% were not identified. Geographic and educational information were not provided, discounting the fact that all participants were college students.

This study states in its heading labeled “Results” that the sample group chosen is in no way representative of college aged people in the US, in Japan, or anywhere. It is written that the survey was done not to generalize the population, but rather to describe potential similarities among the small sample that the data set allows. Therefore, this survey is effective in reflecting the behaviors of the group it represents, but not effective in reflecting the behavioral aspects of a population as a whole.

The survey was given on paper using a 5 point scale to indicate agreement with the question provided, 5 being highly agree and 0 being completely disagree. A few questions given in the survey are the timing of the adoption of the participant’s mobile phone (the 5 responses being more than six years ago, four to five years ago, two to three years ago, less than one year ago, no phone) and frequency of changing the mobile phone (the 5 responses being more than three times, twice, once, never, no phone).

Every single question given on this survey wasn’t provided to the readers of this study, so a completely accurate picture of the range of questions is out of reach. In assessment of the questions that are provided, it is my opinion that the questions asked in the survey were useful and relevant to the study’s ultimate findings. I would have liked the researchers to have shared more of the questions that were asked specifically about the fashion of carrying a cell phone itself instead of only providing questions about basic statistics like years of usage. I don’t think any of the questions provided could have been misconstrued by the participants of this survey and I thought the format was very simple. To better measure this topic, I think that cell phone users of different regions could have been documented, because the growth of cell phone usage didn’t expand at a uniform rate all across the world.

I believe that this study is a credible source of primary information that could easily be taken and extended to more thorough and updated research. Conducted at Rutgers University, this survey is credible because of its large sample size of almost 500 participants from many different countries and cultures around the world. The sample of this study is relevant to its topic because a large majority of the population with consistent heavy mobile phone usage are teenagers or college students. The questions asked on this survey are translatable into graphs, which are shown within the study to support the hypotheses proposed. These graphs make the data tangible to the reader and help to show how all of the responses are formed into evidence and eventually conclusive findings.




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