Not My Type: Why Affective Decision-Makers Are Reluctant to Make Financial Decisions
22 Pages Posted: 11 May 2017 Last revised: 27 May 2018
Date Written: May 10, 2017
Why are people often uncomfortable dealing with financial decisions? We propose that people perceive financial decisions – more so than decisions in many other equally complex and important domains – as compatible with a cold, analytical mode of thinking and as incompatible with feelings and emotions. Consequently, the more people perceive themselves as inclined to rely on affect in their decisions, the more they experience self-concept incongruity with financial decisions (i.e., feeling that financial decisions are “not them”), and consequently show an increased tendency to avoid such decisions. Five studies demonstrate this phenomenon using both consequential and hypothetical decisions, provide evidence for the proposed mechanism, and rule out alternative accounts, including perceived financial knowledge, expertise and self-efficacy perceptions, decision confidence, and preference for numerical information. The findings contribute to research on thinking styles and decision avoidance, and they underscore a characteristic of financial decisions that makes them stand out among many other decision types. In addition to their theoretical significance, the findings have practical implications for the communication of financial products and services.
Keywords: Financial decisions, thinking styles, decision avoidance, analytical thinking, emotions
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