The effects of framing and financial stress on saving intentions
Jung, Ji Young
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The purpose of this dissertation was to investigate the role framing information and financial stress (both distress and eustress) play in shaping saving intentions. This study explored the combined effects of framing and financial stress on changes in saving intentions by applying elements of prospect theory and the theory of stress. Based on the previous literature, three general hypotheses and eight specific hypotheses were developed to guide this study. The hypotheses were tested using survey data collected from 206 undergraduate students enrolled at the University of Georgia during the Fall 2017 semester. Each participant was randomly assigned to one of six experimental conditions. Each participant received an incentive, as approved by the University IRB Office, for participating in the study. A key finding was that framing and financial stress separately influenced the saving intentions of participants. Financial stress was negatively associated with differences in saving intentions when actual money received (i.e., incentive for participation in the study) and a hypothetical $50 amount were examined. Stressors were designed to elicit distress and eustress, using a control group that had no stress treatment. A noteworthy insight from the study was that regardless of the intended stressor (i.e., prompting eustress or distress), no differences in intentions were noted among study participants. That is, it was generalized stress, not eustress or distress, that was associated with saving intentions. More widespread findings were noted in relation to framing. Framing the advantages or disadvantages associated with saving had an influence on participants’ saving intentions based on hypothetical $80, $100, $300, and $500 amounts. Specifically, positive framing increased saving intentions post-treatment, while negative framing decreased saving intentions after treatments. No interaction between framing and financial stress was observed in this study. However, an important relationship between framing and financial stress was noted: framing appears to override the influence of financial stress.