PhysOrg flies in the face of the conventional wisdom that holds “out of sight, out of mind” as a savings strategy. Instead, we save better by keeping our eggs in one basket:
[University of Kansas School of Business assistant professor Promothesh] Chatterjee’s research utilized four separate studies totaling 566 participants. All four studies presented participants the opportunity to earn money across tasks and spend it on different products. The four studies collectively indicated a higher rate of saving among individuals who maintain one account versus those who have multiple accounts. The results will appear in the May 2013 edition of the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.
According to Chatterjee, his findings can be explained by two often-cited theories of behavior – “motivated reasoning” and “fuzzy-trace theory.” Motivated reasoning implies that individuals find spending more enjoyable than saving and are motivated to search for reasons to justify spending. In such situations, vagueness enables them to distort available information to follow desirable spending motives. And having multiple accounts provides that vagueness.
“Basically, people look for an excuse to spend, and vague information facilitates this,” Chatterjee said. “And having multiple accounts provides just enough vagueness to do the trick.”