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Fed/GFLEC Financial Literacy Seminar Series

March 24, 2022

3:30PM - 4:30PM ET

Seminar II: Psychological Ownership of Money: Evidence from the Lab and Field.

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Stephanie Tully

Assistant Professor of Marketing, University of Southern California



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Bio: Stephanie Tully

Stephanie Tully is an assistant professor of marketing at University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, and has recently been named a MSI Young Scholar. She studies the impact of consumers’ resources of money and time. Her research tackles questions like, how does feeling financially constrained change the way consumers make choices, why are some sources of money treated differently than others, and how to encourage consumers to use their time or money to improve their lives. Stephanie’s research has been published in top academic journals including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of Consumer Research, and Journal of Marketing Research among others. Her research has won multiple awards and has been featured in popular press outlets such as Forbes and the Wall Street Journal.


This talk introduces the concept of psychological ownership of money— the notion that individuals perceive money in differing degrees as their own—and demonstrates its influence on financial decisions, including individuals’ interest in using financing (e.g., credit and loans) and accessing government benefits (e.g., EITC benefits). A first project demonstrates that psychological ownership of borrowed money predicts individuals’ Google search behavior, their willingness to borrow, and their interest in using specific debt forms. Moreover, psychological ownership of borrowed money predicts borrowing decisions over and above other factors such as debt aversion and financial literacy. A second project examines whether subtle message framing that increases psychological ownership of money can encourage eligible, low-income individuals to apply for government benefits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Finally, the talk will discuss implications of psychological ownership of money across political parties. Taken together, this talk highlights the important role of psychological ownership of money in individuals’ financial decisions and charts paths forward for future research.