Decisions Under Poverty: Savings Intentions in the Short and Long Term

WCPC Seminar Series on Poverty and Policy: Spring 2010

Presented by Crystal Hall
Assistant Professor of Public Affairs
University of Washington
Monday, May 10, 2010  12:30 - 1:30 p.m., questions / discussion until 2:00 p.m.
Parrington Hall Forum, Room 309
University of Washington
Co-sponsored with UW Evans School of Public Affairs


Crystal Hall joined the Evans School faculty in 2008. She teaches courses on psychology for policy analysis, decision theory, and quantitative analysis.

While at Princeton University, her primary research focus was on decision making in the context of poverty. Specific topics in this research program include the influence of trust on the choice between financial contracts, the structure of mental accounting among low-income populations, and how simple interventions relating to self-affirmation and identity can influence behavior. Other previous research topics included the relationship between facial appearance and election outcomes, how the existence of extra information can impair judgment, and the exploration of an alternate method of implementing social judgment theory. She was previously a member of the interdisciplinary Fellowship of Woodrow Wilson Scholars.

In addition to her academic work, Hall has provided guidance to community organizations seeking to implement tools from psychology and behavioral economics into the design and delivery of their programs and services. She has worked with organizations in Central New Jersey and Philadelphia, and most recently with members of the Washington Asset Building Coalition.

Hall holds a Ph.D. and MA in Psychology from Princeton University. In addition, she holds a BS from Carnegie Mellon University in both decision science and policy and management.


Recently, behavioral decision researchers have begun to consider how insights from psychology can inform the mainstream understanding of decision making in the context of poverty. A behavioral perspective can provide a novel lens with which to consider the decision making of the poor, along with providing insights on how to design and implement policy. In this talk, I present a series of studies which explore preferences for saving among low-income decision makers. I present research which explores decisions about saving in the short term (on a simple retail purchase) and longer term (decisions about saving at tax-time). These studies utilize both simple survey methods and interventions and subsequent examination of real-world behavior. I discuss the implications of this work for policies and programs that promote the financial health of this population.


See the slides from this presentation here