Experiencing costs and benefits of a loan transaction: The role of cost-benefit associations
Financial transactions involve costs and benefits. This also holds for loan transactions where the loan itself constitutes the main cost and the loan-financed possession constitutes the main benefit. This paper aims to investigate how the way consumers mentally associate costs and benefits influences their evaluation of these costs and benefits. In line with previous research we distinguish between strength and direction (costs bring to mind benefits or vice versa) of cost-benefit-associations. We posit that the occurrence of cost-benefit-associations constitutes a meta-cognitive experience which may influence consumer judgments in different ways. It may influence the evaluation of the base cognition and it may influence the evaluation of associated cognition. Whereas existing theorizing points to an effect on the former, an effect on the latter is equally conceivable. A field study with actual credit users and an experiment identify relations other than those previously assumed. If benefits elicit thoughts of costs, the perceived cost (here: loan burden) increase. If costs elicit thoughts of benefits, no effects on the transaction experience are observed. Implications for the theoretical analyses of cost-benefit-associations and for future research aiming to alleviate perceived loan burden are derived.
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