Decision Making of Consumers in Multiple Problem Debts: A Qualitative Study

Jha, Sameer (2011). Decision Making of Consumers in Multiple Problem Debts: A Qualitative Study. MRes thesis The Open University.



Personal unsecured debt has been a growing problem in the UK over recent decades (Grant Thornton, 2009; Livingston & Lunt, 1992). In the British context, literature in the field of personal debts has documented the role of economic, demographic, social, behavioural and psychological factors (Lunt & Livingtone, 1991; Livingstone & Lunt, 1992; Lea et al., 1993; 1995). However, existing literature fails to adequately take into account the role of certain psychological factors such as personality and self control, which are expected to be important for debtors’ decision making. In addition, an interpretive study into decision making of debtors is largely lacking. Moreover, literature in the field appears to have lagged behind the growth of personal debts in the UK, with the last major study reported in the mid-nineties (Lea et al., 1995). This research attempts to overcome such limitations and follows a qualitative research design for the same. The data for the research was collected from the online discussions of debtors from an internet discussion board dedicated to personal debts (Motley Fool, 2010). The data collection was focussed on debtors’ discussions regarding their decisions pertaining to their debts to be able to identify the underlying themes. The data was coded using thematic coding (Strauss, 1987; Flick, 1998) and subsumed into categories to identify the emerging themes, which were tracked with literature to arrive at the factors important for decision making of consumers in multiple problem debts. Five factors; self control and impulsiveness; personality; locus of control; social comparisons and weak money management styles were found to be important for decision making of debtors.

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