Mind games: How Apple sells us on high prices [Cult of Mac Magazine No. 301]

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Did you fall for Apple's psychological trick?
Did you fall for it?
Photo: meo/Pexels CC; Cover: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

If the sky-high price of Apple’s new Pro Display XDR didn’t slap you silly, you probably fell for a clever psychological trick Cupertino often uses. (Either that or you know the actual cost of high-end reference monitors.)

Get the lowdown on Apple’s pricing mind game in this week’s free issue of Cult of Mac Magazine for iOS. Or read on to get the rest of the week’s best Apple news, reviews and how-tos in your browser. We’re serving up a heaping helping of iOS 13 insight along with some fresh product reviews.

How Apple tricks our brains into accepting high prices

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This genius psychological tactic makes Apple's high prices seem totally reasonable.
This genius psychological tactic makes Apple's high prices seem totally reasonable.
Photo: meo/Pexels CC

During the WWDC 2019 keynote, most of Apple’s latest creations drew enthusiastic applause, with one notable exception. The price of Apple’s new Pro Display XDR elicited a somewhat cooler response. But considering just how expensive the monitor is, the fact that it got any applause at all was pretty remarkable.

This is not the first time Apple has had to convince us to pony up for an eye-watering sticker price. Cupertino pulls from a well-established playbook for its keynotes, often employing behavioral science techniques to help soften the blow. (To our brains at least, if not to our wallets).

Apple is looking for psychologist to improve Siri

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Siri
Siri could become a lot more empathetic.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple’s digital assistant Siri could soon become your new psychologist.

According to a new job listing posted by Apple, the company is searching for a software engineer that also has some previous experience in psychology or counseling. Why? Because people are starting to talk to Siri like its a human.

Psychologists explain phantom notifications and ‘ringxiety’

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iphone-4-closeup by alejandro escamilla ringxiety
Give it up, man. It's not actually ringing.
Photo: Alejandro Escamilla/Unsplash

More often than I care to admit, I’ll think I feel a tap from my Apple Watch. But then when I check the screen, I’ve received nothing: no texts, no phone calls, no notifications of any kind. It’s really weird and makes me feel like I’m finally losing it.

I usually just assume the watch shifted a little on my wrist, and that I’m not hallucinating at all. But psychologists are suggesting that what’s happening to me and others (you can admit it; this is a safe place) may be the technological arm of some actual psychological issues dealing with attachment, fear of rejection, and a chronic need for validation.

People are calling this symptom “ringxiety” because I’m pretty sure that we’ve really lost our sense of pride in portmanteaus as a culture.

The two personality traits that made Steve Jobs great

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Steve Jobs was a total narcissist. And that's a good thing. Photo: Ben Stanfield/Flickr CC

The new Steve Jobs biography, Becoming Steve Jobs, rests on the premise that Jobs’ wilderness years outside Apple somehow helped turn a once-reckless co-founder into a seasoned leader.

Just how accurate the book’s kinder, gentler portrayal of Steve actually is, is something that will be discussed over the coming days and weeks — but a new study from Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management backs up the idea that brash, narcissistic qualities can be a “net positive” for CEOs, so long as they are counterbalanced by an added dose of humility.

The study’s illustration of the perfect mixture of these qualities? None other than Jobs himself.

Yes, there is such a thing as iPhone separation anxiety

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iPhone camera
Do you feel nervous when you're away from your iPhone? Photo: Cult of Mac
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

With the exception that most of us don’t routinely change our wives or husbands every couple of years for a newer, slimmer model, owning an iPhone can be a lot like being in a relationship.

And just like any relationship, time apart can lead to separation anxiety and other negative psychological effects.

A new study carried out by researchers from the University of Missouri suggests that iPhone users should avoid being parted from their iPhones during daily situations requiring large amounts of attention — such as taking tests, sitting in meetings, or carrying out important work assignments.