Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

What's psychology worth? A field experiment in the consumer credit market

Contents:

Author Info

  • Marianne Bertrand
  • Dean Karlan
  • Sendhil Mullainathan
  • Eldar Shafir
  • Jonathan Zinman

Abstract

Numerous laboratory studies find that minor nuances of presentation and description change behavior in ways that are inconsistent with standard economic models. How much do these context effect matter in natural settings, when consumers make large, real decisions and have the opportunity to learn from experience? We report on a field experiment designed to address this question. A South African lender sent letters offering incumbent clients large, short-term loans at randomly chosen interest rates. The letters also contained independently randomized psychological "features" that were motivated by specific types of frames and cues shown to be powerful in the lab, but which, from a normative perspective, ought to have no impact. Consistent with standard economics, the interest rate significantly affected loan take-up. Inconsistent with standard economics, some of the psychological features also significantly affected take-up. The average effect of a psychological manipulation was equivalent to a one half percentage point change in the monthly interest rate. Interestingly, the psychological features appear to have greater impact in the context of less advantageous offers and persist across different income and education levels. In short, even in a market setting with large stakes and experienced customers, subtle psychological features appear to be powerful drivers of behavior. The findings pose a challenge for the social sciences: they suggest that psychological nuance matters but may be inherently difficult to predict given the impact of context. Successful incorporation of psychological features into field studies is likely to prove a vital, but nontrivial, addition to the formation of more general theories on when, why, and how frames and cues influence important decisions.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://karlan.yale.edu/fieldexperiments/papers/00217.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Natural Field Experiments with number 00217.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00217

Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.fieldexperiments.com

Related research

Keywords:

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Ganzach, Yoav & Karsahi, Nili, 1995. "Message framing and buying behavior: A field experiment," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 11-17, January.
  2. Glenn Harrison & John List, 2004. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00058, The Field Experiments Website.
  3. Fitzsimons, Gavan J & Shiv, Baba, 2001. " Nonconscious and Contaminative Effects of Hypothetical Questions on Subsequent Decision Making," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(2), pages 224-38, September.
  4. Nava Ashraf & Dean S. Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2005. "Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence from a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," Working Papers 917, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  5. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save More Tomorrow (TM): Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Employee Saving," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages S164-S187, February.
  6. David Laibson, 2001. "A Cue-Theory Of Consumption," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 81-119, February.
  7. Michael Haigh & John List, 2005. "Do professional traders exhibit myopic loss aversion? An experimental analysis," Artefactual Field Experiments 00052, The Field Experiments Website.
  8. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2002. "Wealth Accumulation and the Propensity to Plan," NBER Working Papers 8920, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "Elasticities of Demand for Consumer Credit," Working Papers 926, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  10. Markus M. Mobius & Tanya S. Rosenblat, 2006. "Why Beauty Matters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 222-235, March.
  11. Terrance Odean, 1998. "Are Investors Reluctant to Realize Their Losses?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(5), pages 1775-1798, October.
  12. Fehr, Ernst & Götte, Lorenz, 2004. "Do Workers Work More When Wages Are High? Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 1002, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Richard Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save more tomorrow: Using behavioral economics to increase employee saving," Natural Field Experiments 00337, The Field Experiments Website.
  14. Craig Landry & Andreas Lange & John A. List & Michael K. Price & Nicholas G. Rupp, 2005. "Toward an Understanding of the Economics of Charity: Evidence from a Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 11611, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Sewin Chan & Ann Huff Stevens, 2003. "What You Don't Know Can't Help You: Pension Knowledge and Retirement Decision Making," NBER Working Papers 10185, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Saving, Fungibility, and Mental Accounts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 193-205, Winter.
  17. John A. List, 2003. "Neoclassical Theory Versus Prospect Theory: Evidence from the Marketplace," NBER Working Papers 9736, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. John List, 2003. "Does market experience eliminate market anomalies?," Natural Field Experiments 00297, The Field Experiments Website.
  19. Sendhil Mullainathan & Richard H. Thaler, 2000. "Behavioral Economics," NBER Working Papers 7948, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
  21. Stefano Della Vigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2004. "Contract Design and Self-control: Theory and Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 353-402, May.
  22. Dean S. Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "Observing Unobservables: Identifying Information Asymmetries with a Consumer Credit Field Experiment," Working Papers 911, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  23. Morwitz, Vicki G & Johnson, Eric J & Schmittlein, David C, 1993. " Does Measuring Intent Change Behavior?," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(1), pages 46-61, June.
  24. Huber, Joel & Payne, John W & Puto, Christopher, 1982. " Adding Asymmetrically Dominated Alternatives: Violations of Regularity and the Similarity Hypothesis," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(1), pages 90-98, June.
  25. Mandel, Naomi & Johnson, Eric J, 2002. " When Web Pages Influence Choice: Effects of Visual Primes on Experts and Novices," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(2), pages 235-45, September.
  26. Brigitte C. Madrian & Dennis F. Shea, 2001. "THE POWER OF SUGGESTION: INERTIA IN 401(k) PARTICIPATION AND SAVINGS BEHAVIOR," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1149-1187, November.
  27. Eugenio J. Miravete, 2003. "Choosing the Wrong Calling Plan? Ignorance and Learning," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 297-310, March.
  28. Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein, 2003. "Libertarian Paternalism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 175-179, May.
  29. Jennifer Smith & Alan Gerber & Anton Orlich, 2003. "Self-prophecy effects and voter turnout: An experimental replication," Natural Field Experiments 00333, The Field Experiments Website.
  30. Min Ding & Rajdeep Grewal & John Liechty, 2005. "Incentive-aligned conjoint analysis," Framed Field Experiments 00139, The Field Experiments Website.
  31. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-61, November.
  32. Jonathan Zinman, 2004. "Why use debit instead of credit? Consumer choice in a trillion-dollar market," Staff Reports 191, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  33. Itamar Simonson & Ziv Carmon & Suzanne O'Curry, 1994. "Experimental Evidence on the Negative Effect of Product Features and Sales Promotions on Brand Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 13(1), pages 23-40.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00217. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joe Seidel).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.