February 02, 2004

High and Low SES Debtors: The Use of Psychological Measures to Determine Differences

Richard L. Wiener, Karen Gross, Susan Block-Lieb, Corinne Baron-Donovan

BABC 04-2: This paper used a psycho legal methodology, which combined empirical research with legal scholarship to study debtors in bankruptcy comparing them to a sample of non-debtors on knowledge, mood, attitude, and behavioral measures of spending and saving. Logistic regressions showed patterns of behavior that differentiate debtors from non-debtors. Debtors, compared to non-debtors, were more likely to have unpaid bills and less likely to deposit money into saving or checking accounts. Cluster and profile analyses found differences between types of debtors producing high and low SES profiles with training and educational implications. Most importantly, higher SES debtors’ expenditures for unneeded but desired products were largely determined by their attitudes toward irresponsible spending, in conjunction with normative considerations of significant others. On the other hand, the spending and saving actions of low SES debtors relied on positive attitudes toward unnecessary purchasing and their perceptions of their own self-control, but not on normative considerations…

Category: Working Papers

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