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Psychological determinants of consumer credit: the role of attitudes

Francesco Pattarin (Dipartimento di Economia “Marco Biagi”, Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy)
Stefano Cosma (Dipartimento di Economia “Marco Biagi”, Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy)

Review of Behavioral Finance

ISSN: 1940-5979

Article publication date: 16 November 2012



Consumer credit as a proportion of household debt has grown considerably during the last 20 years across many developed countries. A fairly extensive literature from the field of empirical psychology has provided evidence that personality factors and attitudes may influence individuals’ debt financing decisions. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the importance of attitude to credit and three main research questions are addressed. Is there any relationship between attitude and use of consumer credit? Are there any differences between the attitudes of credit users and non‐users that can be associated with motivations for using consumer credit? Does attitude towards credit affect preferences for the financing of consumption?


The authors provide answers based on the results of an original survey of the use of consumer credit conducted on a wide sample of Italian households, which allowed the authors to asses the respondents’ attitudes towards credit and to examine them with respect to credit decisions, controlling for several socio‐economic variables.


The findings indicate that the influence of attitude on consumer credit decisions cannot be ruled out. Attitude toward credit appears to play an important role and is significantly related to motivations for using credit and to the method of choice for financing consumption.


This study improves on most existing research on these topics in the particularly large size and scope of the sample, and also because several studies from the psychological field lack a thorough assessment of household economic conditions and expectations.



Pattarin, F. and Cosma, S. (2012), "Psychological determinants of consumer credit: the role of attitudes", Review of Behavioral Finance, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 113-129.



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