Diagnosis – Purchase Justification Syndrome

Written by Harry Butler

November 26, 2009 // 11:23 a.m.

Tags: #fanboys #pjs

Working here at bit-tech, I’ve noticed that over time a curious ailment that afflicts all of us at some point or another. It can lead to perfectly rational people ignoring others and making completely irrational decisions, generate more anger and animosity than a BNP speech or, flowing a different way, warrant jubilant praise where none is due. The condition I speak of I’ve dubbed PJS, short for Purchase Justification Syndrome.[break]

We’ve all experienced it at some point, to some degree – that twinge of brand loyalty; that feeling of being swept up in the hype, and before long we’re protesting and protecting our purchases or favoured brands as if they were an ideal upon which we’d built our lives. Back in my ill-informed youth, suffering from acute PJS, I blindly picked up an ATI Radeon X800 Pro following the strength of the ATI’s previous generation of GPUs, ignoring the media advice to opt for an Nvidia’s 6800 series card instead.

Those who criticised my choice were met with as sharp a tongue as those who questioned why I was upgrading the cooling on my £300 brand new GPU. As far as I was concerned, ATI could do no wrong following the superb 9xxx Series of Radeon cards. Of course, as time went on Shader Model 3, which the X800 failed to support, started to become a minimum requirement of games and as the confidence in my purchase waned, I was slowly cured of my PJS. Never again would I support a company so blindly on the faith and quality of a previous product – especially in the tech industry, where progress between generations of hardware can be enormous and the devil is very much in the details.

Mine was a mild case, but PJS can hit dangerous levels if a sufferer is surrounded by those of a similar disposition. Think of the feeling of “us” VS “them”that’s so common between fans of a particular motherboard manufacturer or CPU company, those users who stand up refuse to use company X’s products because they’d never use anything but Company Y. When faced with a positive opinion of “the enemy” (or a negative opinion of their chosen brand) the first response is suspicion, followed swiftly by anger and then rampant defence, in spite of any rational information proffered towards them. Needless to say 'fanboys' as we know them are sufferers of chronic PJS.

Diagnosis – Purchase Justification Syndrome Diagnosis – PJS
He said Nvidia was rubbish - get him!

PJS works both ways though. While positive PJS (PJS+) finds us vehemently defending products or companies out of some miss-placed loyalty, negative PJS (PJS-) causes us to lambast or shoot down those products or companies for which we’ve somehow garnered a poor opinion based on no personal experiences. Especially in our increasingly connected world, our opinions are being influenced long before we get hands on with a product, and that has a serious knock on effect, sometimes without us even realising.

The release of Modern Warfare 2 and next year’s Bad Company 2 is a prime example. Following weeks and weeks of bad news coming out of Infinity Ward PC gamers’ opinions were forged into a relentless spear of hate through online forums and word of mouth, while DICE capitalised by making themselves the heroes and openly supporting dedicated servers. I’m not going to delve into the pros and cons of this particular issue (which we’ve discussed at length in last week’s gaming podcast) but I’m willing to bet the majority of us had a pretty poor opinion of MW2 on PC without ever playing it and carried that into our experience of the game – a classic case of PJS-.

It’s inevitable though that our opinions will be shaped by not only the efforts of marketing companies, news and social media, but also by our own experiences. If you’ve never had a hard disk from a particular company die, of course you’ll support that brand. It’s when it comes to ignoring superior products (or, on the flip side, choosing ones with obvious flaws) for the sake of supporting your trusted brand that perhaps we need to take a step back and reassess where your loyalties should lie.

That, of course, is where we at bit-tech and Custom PC come in. We try our hardest to remain as free of PJS as possible, remaining neutral and subjective throughout our reviews process, producing an unbiased view of a product. It might not always be the popular opinion (memories of S.T.A.L.K.E.R Clear Sky and GTA4 reviews), but we call it as we see it and take our impartiality as seriously as we do the thoroughness of our testing. We all suffer from PJS at some time or another, but with the help of bit-tech and Custom PC and the technology media at large available, there’s no reason for anyone to be a chronic case.