Better Decisions Lab

Making ends meet—the ability to balance monthly expenses, plan for the future, and pay debt—continues to present significant challenges for the US population, contributing to inequalities in wealth and consumption. Financial decisions are notoriously difficult since decisions about whether to spend or save involve self-control, the ability to predict future consumption needs accurately and require monitoring and management over a long period of time (such as managing month long family budget). In the Better Decisions Lab, we study how people make financial decisions and whether using different FinTech instruments (from budgeting apps to mobile payment systems) improves or hinders our decision making. Understanding how financial decisions can be improved using novel tools in the marketplace has important implications for improving consumers' financial well-being and for guiding financial services industry towards consumer-centric innovation.

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Financial Decision Making

Research Streams

Nudging for Better Health

University of Arizona Campus Re-Entry Plan relies on campus communities, particularly students, to adhere to guidelines to minimize transmission of SARS-CoV-2 during in-person campus activities. As of now there are no published studies testing different behavioral intervention strategies aimed at increasing compliance with guidelines. However, early work indicates that providing information only has limited effect on behavior (Falco & Zaccagni 2020). Thus, UA campus re-entry provides a unique opportunity to test the effectiveness of different strategies to enhance adherence to guidelines set forth by the University.

Drawing on faculty expertise in judgment and decision-making and working in close collaboration with the Adapting to the New Normal ad hoc working group, we will compare three types of behavioral-science interventions designed to increase compliance with guidelines: informational(baseline), social, and individual. The results of this project will inform campus re-entry by providing better guidance on how to communicate with the student population to increase adherence.

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Online Reviews

With the rise of Internet shopping, product reviews have gained prominence. Nearly 60% of consumers now say that the average product rating is the most important product attribute in their purchase decisions.  Because online reviews play a significant role in consumer behavior, in this stream of research we try to understand the processes by which consumers incorporate reviews into their purchase decisions, focusing on both how written elements of reviews and numerical ratings affect judgments. We further examine what drives consumers to choose to invest their time in writing a review and post in on the internet, as well as whether such behavior is strategic. Addressing the gap between what review writers want to convey in their reviews and what review reader actually perceive helps improve market inefficiencies on online review platforms.

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Consumer Political Involvement

A lack of citizen involvement in the political process, and unequal engagement of all citizens, especially from less privileged groups, in the political process constitutes a major challenge of modern democracy. However, one form of political participation that has been increasing is small donor contributions, i.e., contributions that are less than $2000. Underscoring the increasing importance of this decision, the number of individual contributions to a political campaign has recently been adopted as a central metric for measuring support for political candidates, and is widely reported by media as a signal of popularity and relevance of a candidate for a political office Given that their role political process is increasingly important, it is imperative that academics systematically investigate this topic to develop theory and empirical evidence. The current stream of research looks at both antecedents and consequences of small donor donations, specifically focusing on the choice of contribution format.

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