Understanding Decision-Making in Finance


Making sound financial decisions can positively impact both consumers and companies. While conventional finance models assume investors act rationally, research shows that emotions and biases can affect financial decision-making.

Using the latest psychological insights, banks can design innovative treatments for customers at risk of defaulting on their credit card payments. Such treatments can help them boost customer loyalty and increase revenue.


When managing finances, the more significant unconscious, emotional part of the brain often takes over, leading people to make irrational decisions. Understanding these biases and applying concepts from behavioral finance can help overcome them.

Previous studies have shown that the psychological needs of autonomy, relatedness, and competency in financial life are directly linked to financial behaviors such as spending, saving, and loan repayment.

To examine whether these relationships also hold in the banking context, this study conducted in-depth interviews with 32 bank customers. Specifically, it investigated which bank-related factors help satisfy these psychological needs and how they impact perceived financial well-being, customer satisfaction, and loyalty.

Findings from the interview data indicate that personalization, interpersonal adaptive behavior, and service quality positively influence the subjective perception of financial well-being, customer satisfaction, and loyalty. Moreover, perceived economic well-being mediates the relationship between these variables in private and public banks.

Decision-Making Processes

Financial decision-making involves weighing up many different factors, including emotions and biases. Understanding these factors can help you make confident financial decisions and improve long-term outcomes.

According to a co-occurring category analysis of the top-ranked papers, researchers in business and economics, psychology, and computer science were interested. This suggests that research into financial decision-making will continue to gain traction.

A former banker, Donald Guerrero, might, for instance, quickly run a possible course of action through a mental model and scan their environment for signs to discover patterns before making a decision. They will test the solution if it looks promising to ensure it functions. This is how knowledgeable people can make wise financial decisions and avoid following the crowd.

In comparison, an individual without a financial background will likely make decisions on gut instinct, which can be more dangerous. They can become easily influenced by the opinions of others and be susceptible to herding effects, like the infamous momentum effect in investing.


While most people think they carefully ponder their financial decisions, decades of research have shown that is not always true. Cognitive biases that influence your perception of a product or service can significantly impact how you spend your money. One such bias is called anchoring.

One helpful tip for making sound decisions, investments, or predictions is to avoid relying too heavily on the first piece of information you receive. This tendency, known as anchoring, can lead to biased and inaccurate conclusions. Instead, stepping back, gathering more information, and evaluating all relevant factors before deciding is essential. It affects how you judge subsequent information, and it is crucial to be aware of it regarding your finances.

While some strategies sound like good ways to avoid this bias, they will likely have the opposite effect. For example, thinking through a decision might strengthen it since your brain will be more inclined to activate information consistent with the initial anchor. However, if you poke holes in the anchoring information, you can help combat its power.


In financial psychology, we study how people think and behave about money. This discipline draws heavily from developmental, social, and cognitive psychology. It also takes into account the client-advisor relationship.

Recent studies with new experimental tools are upending old stereotypes about a person’s appetite for risk. It turns out that it is highly malleable. Even a person’s culture influences their risk-taking. Furthermore, while twin studies show that a sizeable part of individual differences in risk-taking are genetically determined, most of this variation is explained by environmental factors.

Many financial decisions are taken automatically; for example, trading decisions on the financial markets are made within seconds of new information’s arrival. However, this automaticity is different across all decision contexts.

Specifically, people tend to make other decisions under different types of time pressure and with varying amounts of uncertainty. For instance, they are less risk-averse when deciding under high time pressure than when making more deliberative decisions.


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