Advanced Search
Current and Breaking News for Professionals, Consumers and Media

Click here to learn how to advertise on this site and for ad rates.

Psychological Issues Author: Staff Editor Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

Cognitive Bias May Underlie Both Physical and Financial Health Behaviors

By Staff Editor
Jul 1, 2014 - 4:03:39 PM

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Ezine
For Email Marketing you can trust

Email this article
 Printer friendly page

( - Poor physical health and poor financial health may be driven by the same underlying psychological factors, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Researcher Lamar Pierce, associate professor of strategy at Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, and doctoral candidate Timothy Gubler found that an employee's decision to contribute to a 401(k) retirement plan predicted whether he or she would act to correct poor physical health indicators that were revealed during an employer-sponsored health examination.

"We find that existing retirement contribution patterns and future health improvements are highly correlated," the researchers write.

"Those who save for the future by contributing to a 401(k) improved abnormal health test results and poor health behaviors approximately 27 percent more than non-contributors."

The study findings provide evidence that insufficient retirement funds and chronic health problems are at least partially driven by time discounting, a common cognitive bias that leads us to prefer smaller immediate rewards over larger future rewards.

Using personnel and health data from eight industrial laundry locations in multiple states, Gubler and Pierce were able to look at employees who contributed to their company 401(k) plans and those who did not and compare them on the extent to which they seemed to change their behavior in order to address a health risk.

Employees were given an initial health screening and were told of the results, which were also sent to their personal physicians. Screening results showed that 97% of the employees had at least one abnormal blood test and 25% had at least one severely abnormal finding. The employees were also given information on risky health behaviors and anticipated future health risks.

The researchers then followed the laundry workers for two years to see how they attempted to improve their health, and if any changes they made were tied to financial planning habits.

After controlling for differences in initial health, demographics, and job type, the researchers found that retirement savings and health improvement behaviors were highly correlated.

Study participants who had previously chosen to save for the future through 401(k) contributions improved their health significantly more than non-contributors, showing improvements on tests for blood glucose and cholesterol, for example. Contributors showed these positive changes despite the fact that there were few health differences between contributors and non-contributors prior to program implementation.

While they could not measure time discounting directly as the main underlying factor driving both health-related behavior and financial planning, Gubler and Pierce point out that the results are not accounted for by other factors,  such as how conscientious the participants were, whether they took professional advice, the extent of their financial need, or their life expectancy.

"Our analysis suggests that the same underlying psychological factors that are linked to retirement planning also predict health-improvement behaviors," the researchers conclude.


For rates and information on advertising, call Mike McCurdy at 877-634-9180. Or email at [email protected]  We have over 7,000 journalists as subscribers.

Top of Page

Psychological Issues
Latest Headlines

+ 'Will I Look Dumb?' When Virtual Assistants Deter Help-Seeking
+ Emotions: Not for the Powerful
+ Your Holiday Stress Has Nothing to do With Your Mother-in-Law
+ What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About Dealing with Grief
+ People Who Value Virtue Show Wiser Reasoning
+ Put the News on Snooze… Taking a Break is Healthy
+ Feeling Sated Can Become a Cue to Eat More
+ Cooperation Driven by Reciprocity, Not Conformity
+ Link Between Positive Emotions and Health Depends on Culture
+ 2 Distinct Brain Regions Have Independent Influence on Decision-Making

Contact Us | Job Listings | Help | Site Map | About Us
Advertising Information | HND Press Release | Submit Information | Disclaimer

Site hosted by Sanchez Productions