Explanations of effects of prior income changes on bying decisions

Journal of Economic Psychology 20:449-463 (1999)
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Abstract

Two experiments with undergraduates as subjects tested explanations of how a prior temporary income change influences choices between buying and deferred buying. In Experiment 1 predictions from the behavioral life-cycle theory (Shefrin & Thaler, 1988), the renewable resources model (Linville & Fischer, 1991) and the loss-sensitivity principle (Garling & Romanus, 1997) were contrasted. The results are inconsistent with the latter two explanations since the framing of buying as positive (buying a new model of a product) or negative (replacing a broken product) did not interact with the income change. Congruent with the behavioral life-cycle theory, willingness to buy was greater when subjects received a temporary income increase than when they received a temporary income decrease although total assets were equal. Further support for the behavioral life-cycle theory is obtained in Experiment 2 where four income-change conditions and durable and nondurable goods are compared.

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Marcus Selart
Norwegian School of Economics

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