Students' concern about indebtedness: A rank based social norms account



Aldrovandi S, Wood AM, Maltby J & Brown GDA (2015) Students' concern about indebtedness: A rank based social norms account. Studies in Higher Education, 40 (7), pp. 1307-1327.

This paper describes a new model of students' concern about indebtedness within a rank-based social norms framework. Study 1 found that students hold highly variable beliefs about how much other students will owe at the end of their degree. Students' concern about their own anticipated debt – and their intention of taking on a part-time job during term time – was best predicted not by the size of the anticipated debt, but by how they, often incorrectly, believed their debt ranked amongst that of others. Study 2 manipulated hypothetical debt amounts experimentally and found that the same anticipated debt was rated as 2.5 times more concerning when it ranked as the second highest being considered than when it was the fifth highest. Study 3 demonstrated that the model applies to evaluation of different types of debt (income contingent loans versus general debt).

students' indebtedness; context effects; attitudes towards debt; range frequency theory; decision by sampling; social norms

Studies in Higher Education: Volume 40, Issue 7

FundersEconomic and Social Research Council and Economic and Social Research Council
Publication date31/12/2015
Publication date online28/03/2014
PublisherTaylor and Francis

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