Asset Building Financial Behaviors Financial Inclusion Working Paper

The Role of Choice Architecture in Promoting Saving at Tax Time: Evidence From a Large-Scale Field Experiment

This paper presents the findings of a large-scale field experiment (N = 646,16) from the Refund to Savings Initiative. The experiment tested a choice architecture and persuasive messaging intervention that increased saving among low-moderate income (LMI) consumers by approximately 50% during tax refund time. Two follow-up experiments parsed components of the intervention. The first follow-up experiment (N = 569) tested the messaging and choice architecture interventions separately, finding that each can increase savings. a final follow-up experiment (N = 554) tested individual elements of the choice architecture intervention, demonstrating that mere mention of savings within choice options was not sufficient to increase saving, however, heavy emphasis of savings and making saving “frictionless” within choice options both effectively increased saving intentions. The final experiment also demonstrated that the choice architecture effect operates similarly for both LMI and non-LMI consumers..

Project: Refund to Savings


Grinstein-Weiss, M., Cryder, C., Despard, M. R., Perantie, D. C., Oliphant, J. E., & Ariely, D. (2017). The role of choice architecture in promoting saving at tax time: Evidence from a large-scale field experiment (CSD Working Paper No. 17-29). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.