Behavioral science can boost members’ financial acumen

Common Cents Lab partners with CUs to encourage positive financial decisions.

A handful of credit unions are working with behavioral researchers to better serve their members.

These credit unions are designing and testing solutions to improve the financial well-being of their low- to moderate-income communities by working with the Common Cents Lab, which is part of the Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University.

Common Cents Lab starts with the premise that, in the real world of decision-making, people are less like the logical Star Trek character Spock and more like the more impulsive cartoon character Homer Simpson, says Mariel Beasley, the lab’s co-director.

“We act on things more immediately,” Beasley told attendees at the 2016 CUNA Community Credit Union Conference and The Federation 2016 Annual Meeting in Dallas.

Knowledge alone does not lead to behavior change, she says. A person’s environment has a profound effect on decision-making, including timing, the way the choice is presented, and societal norms.


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