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Personal traits and individual choices: Taking action in economic and non-economic decisions

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  • van Rooij, Maarten
  • Teppa, Federica

Abstract

In a large number of decisions, the option that does not require a specific action such as filling in a form is chosen frequently. It is a stylized fact that opt-in or opt-out designs for otherwise identical choices lead to vastly different outcomes. Choice options are chosen more frequently simply because they are the no-action alternative or default option. However, direct empirical evidence on the reasons for the popularity of defaults is scarce. We devised a special survey module for the Dutch DNB Household Survey to study potential explanations for default choices. We find that the popularity of the default option is related to different personal traits in economic and non-economic decisions. Financially literate individuals are more likely to take action and opt out the default option in economic decision-making. In non-economic decisions, procrastination increases the popularity of the default while individuals who care much about the opinion of others are more inclined to deviate from the default.

Suggested Citation

  • van Rooij, Maarten & Teppa, Federica, 2014. "Personal traits and individual choices: Taking action in economic and non-economic decisions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 33-43.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:100:y:2014:i:c:p:33-43
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2013.12.019
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    2. Tim Friehe & Mario Mechtel & Markus Pannenberg, 2014. "Positional Income Concerns: Prevalence and Relationship with Personality and Economic Preferences," IAAEU Discussion Papers 201411, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU).
    3. Brounen, Dirk & Koedijk, Kees G. & Pownall, Rachel A.J., 2016. "Household financial planning and savings behavior," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 95-107.
    4. Jante Parlevliet & Thomas Kooiman, 2015. "Wealth formation of Dutch households: a policy assessment," DNB Occasional Studies 1301, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    5. Gerhard, Patrick & Hoffmann, Arvid O.I. & Post, Thomas, 2017. "Past performance framing and investors’ belief updating: Is seeing long-term returns always associated with smaller belief updates?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(C), pages 38-51.
    6. Altmann, Steffen & Grunewald, Andreas & Radbruch, Jonas, 2019. "Passive Choices and Cognitive Spillovers," IZA Discussion Papers 12337, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Giovanni Gallo & Costanza Torricelli & Arthur van Soest, 2016. "Individual heterogeneity and pension choices: How to communicate an effective message?," Center for the Analysis of Public Policies (CAPP) 0136, Universita di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Dipartimento di Economia "Marco Biagi".
    8. Niels Vermeer & Maarten Rooij & Daniel Vuuren, 2019. "Retirement Age Preferences: The Role of Social Interactions and Anchoring at the Statutory Retirement Age," De Economist, Springer, vol. 167(4), pages 307-345, December.
    9. Gallo, Giovanni & Torricelli, Costanza & van Soest, Arthur, 2018. "Individual heterogeneity and pension choices: Evidence from Italy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 260-281.
    10. Giovanni Gallo & Costanza Torricelli & Arthur van Soest, 2016. "Individual heterogeneity and pension choices: How to communicate an effective message?," Center for the Analysis of Public Policies (CAPP) 0136, Universita di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Dipartimento di Economia "Marco Biagi".

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Procrastination; Financial literacy; Default option; Opt-out choice;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General

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