Savings for Irrational Humans: A Design Meets Psychology Approach

Harvey, Kirsty Eleanor
Karmokar, Sangeeta
Walker, Charles
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Master of Creative Technologies
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Auckland University of Technology

‘Being good with money’, making good financial decisions or managing money well sounds relatively simple, or at least a simple problem to fix. We all know we should probably budget, shouldn’t spend beyond our means or get into debt. And while we may not admittedly actually be doing that right now, our state of affairs aren’t terrible and we certainly could if we really needed to. Couldn’t we?

Up until recently, the widely accepted solution to increasing people’s financial capability has been to educate the ‘rider’. However, education is not actually changing how people behave. Unfortunately as Behavioural Economics (BE) shows, it is the ‘elephant’ or our less rational, intuitive system of thinking that drives much of our behaviour. BE explains why education doesn’t necessarily work and its recent rise into the mainstream has encouraged many governments and organisations to reconsider their strictly educational approach and integrate ‘behavioural factors’ into their efforts.

While there is plenty of theoretical research and proven behavioural interventions, there are few practical outcomes: particularly culturally attuned, targeted interventions for particular population groups. In New Zealand, 18-24 year olds are particularly underserved with few appealing and salient tools and resources available to help them with money.

This thesis combines behavioural science with a Human Centred Design (HCD) approach to create an app that is grounded in psychology, but enhanced and made relevant and appealing by design. While HCD processes mean that results connect with the audience emotionally, they can lack the rigour of behavioural science that increases the chances for long-term sustainability.

This research shows potential for impact in the real world, and supports a process that integrates design methods with social science. [Note: The full text of this thesis is embargoed until 30 June 2017]

Human Centred Design , Behavioural science , Financial literacy , Generative research
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