On Assets and Debt in the Psychology of Perceived Wealth

Abigail Sussman, Princeton University, USA
Eldar Shafir , Princeton University, USA
We study people's feeling of wealth as a function of assets and debt. Keeping positive net worth constant, people feel and are seen as wealthier when they have lower debt (despite fewer assets). In contrast, those with negative worth feel wealthier with greater assets (despite greater debt). Implications are considered.
[ to cite ]:
Abigail Sussman and Eldar Shafir (2011) ,"On Assets and Debt in the Psychology of Perceived Wealth", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 39, eds. Rohini Ahluwalia, Tanya L. Chartrand, and Rebecca K. Ratner, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 46-47.