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Understanding and knowledge of credit cost and duration: Effects on credit judgements and decisions


  • McHugh, Sandie
  • Ranyard, Rob
  • Lewis, Alan


Financial capability requires understanding measures of consumer credit cost and using them appropriately in credit judgements and decisions. In three studies, UK adults' understanding and use of credit cost and duration information were investigated from a bounded rationality perspective. Study 1, part of a representative survey of UK adults (NÂ =Â 1000), found that when presented with annual percentage rate (APR) participants significantly overestimated the total cost (TC) of a 12-month loan. In Study 2, loan duration and APR were varied in an independent groups experiment (NÂ =Â 242). Bank customers' TC estimates were sensitive to both loan duration and APR but TC was again substantially overestimated. Study 3 was an independent groups experiment investigating the effect of APR and TC information on credit decisions (NÂ =Â 241). APR often influenced decisions between loans varying in duration and monthly repayment, but this effect was moderated by TC information. It was concluded that: (1) people generally misunderstand the relation between APR and TC; and (2) although APR information can have a large effect on credit decisions, its effect is either attenuated or amplified by TC information. The findings are interpreted in terms of a 'take the best APR' heuristic and a dual mental account model of instalment credit. Recommendations for improving credit information provision and financial education are offered.

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  • McHugh, Sandie & Ranyard, Rob & Lewis, Alan, 2011. "Understanding and knowledge of credit cost and duration: Effects on credit judgements and decisions," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 609-620, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:32:y:2011:i:4:p:609-620

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ranyard, Rob & Craig, Gill, 1993. "Estimating the duration of a flexible loan: The effect of supplementary information," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 317-335, June.
    2. Ranyard, Rob & Hinkley, Lisa & Williamson, Janis & McHugh, Sandie, 2006. "The role of mental accounting in consumer credit decision processes," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 571-588, August.
    3. Marianne Bertrand & Dean Karlin & Sendhil Mullainathan & Eldar Shafir & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "What's Psychology Worth? A Field Experiment in the Consumer Credit Market," NBER Working Papers 11892, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    5. Richard H. Thaler, 2008. "Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 27(1), pages 15-25, 01-02.
    6. Bettman, James R & Luce, Mary Frances & Payne, John W, 1998. " Constructive Consumer Choice Processes," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(3), pages 187-217, December.
    7. Ranyard, Rob & Craig, Gill, 1995. "Evaluating and budgeting with instalment credit: An interview study," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 449-467, September.
    8. Shefrin, Hersh M & Thaler, Richard H, 1988. "The Behavioral Life-Cycle Hypothesis," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(4), pages 609-643, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ranyard, Rob & McHugh, Sandie, 2012. "Defusing the risk of borrowing: The psychology of payment protection insurance decisions," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 738-748.
    2. McHugh, Sandie & Ranyard, Rob, 2016. "Consumers’ credit card repayment decisions: The role of higher anchors and future repayment concern," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 102-114.
    3. Gathergood, John, 2012. "Self-control, financial literacy and consumer over-indebtedness," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 590-602.
    4. repec:eee:pacfin:v:43:y:2017:i:c:p:218-237 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Shen, Chung-Hua & Lin, Shih-Jie & Tang, De-Piao & Hsiao, Yu-Jen, 2016. "The relationship between financial disputes and financial literacy," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 46-65.
    6. McElvaney, Terry & Lunn, Pete & McGowan, Féidhlim, 2018. "Do consumers understand PCP car finance? An experimental investigation," Papers WP586, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    7. Lunn, Pete & Bohacek, Marek & Rybicki, Alicia, 2016. "An Experimental Investigation of Personal Loan Choices," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number BKMNEXT314.


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