LOAN ME THE MONEY: HOW COGNITIVE ABILITIES AND FINANCIAL KNOWLEDGE INFLUENCE CONSUMERS’ INFORMATION BEHAVIORS Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
Creator
  • Brennan, Kathleen
    • Affiliation: School of Information and Library Science
Abstract
  • For most people, financial well-being depends on the ability to make sound decisions about many aspects of personal finance. This is especially true in the United States (U.S.), when it comes to consumer loan products such as mortgages and student loans. Consumers who lack strong financial knowledge can unwittingly expose themselves to bad information when searching online. Without understanding people’s searching behaviors, information professionals cannot know whether personal finance-related information systems adequately meet the needs of the people using them. Interactive Information Retrieval (IIR) is well-suited to study this, yet there has been little research in this area. One approach that makes sense for studying debt-related information searching is to investigate the role individual differences play in people’s searching. This is because individual differences are testable constructs that can be associated with differences in search performance outcomes. The purpose of this dissertation research is to understand influences that cognitive abilities and financial knowledge have on outcomes related to search, assessment, and mental workload of adults searching online for debt-related personal finance information. A theoretical model is proposed in which financial knowledge acts as a moderating variable on the effect that cognitive abilities have on search and evaluation behaviors as well as mental workload. The results of the study were mixed. The testing of hypotheses on the model were unsuccessful and provide information for informing future model designs and hypothesis development. The qualitative portion of the study provided numerous insights, including that the topic of personal finance, specifically in the realm of financial loans such as mortgages, student loans, and payday loans, is more challenging for people than they realize. Participants reported low prior knowledge of all task topics and used simple search strategies such as avoiding advertisements on search engine results pages (SERPs), relying heavily on the first SERP result, and reformulating queries rather than investigating SERPs at deeper levels. Participants rated most webpages they found as relevant or very relevant but expert assessors rated most of those same pages as only somewhat relevant or not relevant. The findings have numerous implications and point to key areas for further research.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
Advisor
  • Gwizdka, Jacek
  • Capra, Rob
  • Kelly, Diane
  • Mostafa, Javed
  • Arguello, Jaime
Degree
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2018
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