Influencing retirement saving behavior with expert advice and social comparison as persuasive techniques

Junius Gunaratne, Oded Nov

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Numerous online communities and e-commerce sites provide users with crowd-based recommendations to influence decision making about products. Similarly, automated recommender systems often use social advice or curated knowledge provided by experts to give customers personalized product recommendations. Little, however, is known about the relative strengths of these approaches in repeated-decision scenarios. We used social comparison and an expert recommendation to examine the relative effectiveness of these methods of persuasion for users making repeated retirement saving decisions. We exposed 314 performance-incentivized experiment participants to a retirement saving simulator where they made 34 yearly asset allocation decisions in one of three user interface conditions. The gap between participants’ retirement goal and actual savings was smallest in the expert advice condition and significantly better than the social comparison condition. Both conditions were significantly better than the control condition. In non-control conditions, users adjusted their behavior and achieved their saving goal more effectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPersuasive Technology - 10th International Conference, PERSUASIVE 2015, Proceedings
EditorsThomas MacTavish, Santosh Basapur
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9783319203058
StatePublished - 2015
Event10th International Conference on Persuasive Technology, PERSUASIVE 2015 - Chicago, United States
Duration: Jun 3 2015Jun 5 2015

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Other10th International Conference on Persuasive Technology, PERSUASIVE 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Behavior change
  • Financial literacy
  • Persuasive technology
  • Retirement saving
  • Social comparison

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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