You are registered to take the Behavioral Household Finance exam in the form of project work. Please find below the topic of the project and the description of your tasks.
The BEHF Project
During the course we have analyzed different types of financial decisions that individuals and households frequently make. We have seen that many decisions are not flawless and that, by providing insights coming from psychology, behavioral theories can help explain these flaws and improve people’s decisions.
Starting from this consideration, your goal for the project consists in the identification of a household/individual financial decision that may be improved via behavioral theories. To do this, you have to propose an idea that, through the implementation of an app or computer software, exploits behavioral insights to help people make better financial decisions.
Below you find more details.
Description of the project work and procedure
Identify an aspect of financial decisions that you think should/could be improved. This target issue may be within one of the two following categories:
Having in mind the topics discussed in class, you can target already known issues in household finance (e.g. the fact that many individuals carry over their credit card balance for a long time; the inability to fully track the amount of own wealth; the fact that people do not pay full attention to overdraft fees; the lack of consumption smoothing; etc.)
Thinking about the daily life of an average household/individual, you can identify new aspects related to any type of household financial decision (e.g. parents-children relationship and pocket money management; responsible purchasing decisions when going shopping; etc.)
Think about an idea for a mobile app or computer software that, based on behavioral theory, may help people with the target issue. In doing so, keep in mind different aspects:
Think with theories: based on what we discussed in the lectures, what behavioral theory (or theories) does your app rely on to help people deal with the target issue? Why is that particular theory relevant? How may it help?
Think about the target: who is going to be your target? Why? Is there any research/data providing a rationale that supports your idea to target a specific group of individuals? etc.
Be creative: you can think of apps that involve the use of physical objects too (e.g. stickers that nudge people into a particular consumption behavior; a new design for a credit card; etc.; then you can link this to the app: for example the app may help people track the change in their behavior after they have started using the stickers, or the new credit card; …)
Think big: if you wanted to develop that app, who would you like to involve/interact with? Any particular professional figure (e.g. behavioral stragestis? choice architects?)? Would you establish a partnership with a particular company? Why? Would you need to collect data before the app development? How? Is there any existing app that already does what you have in mind? — these are example questions you may want to think to make your idea more original, on the one hand, but also more realistic, on the other hand.
Think about household finance, not computer science: While it is important to describe the user experience with the app, you should also keep in mind that this is not a computer science course! The focus must be on the household finance issue that you want target and the use of behavioral theories to tackle that issue.
Work on the outcome. You have to prepare the following:
A 5-page synthetic report in which you discuss the target issue; describe your app and how it addresses the target issue; describe the major behavioral principles behind the app.
A Power Point file of max 10 slides to summarize the key aspects of your app, the key behavioral theory behind it, and the targeted issue.
Report style: max 5 A4 pages, standard margins, Calibri, 12pt, double-spaced. Title page and reference list count as extra pages (i.e. you have max 5 pages of text + title page + reference list). Language: English. Please include your student ID in the title page. You can structure the report as you like but here is a recommended structure:
Introduction: What is the main issue you are targeting? Why does it matter?
App description: How does your app work? Why/how does it address the target issue? Who are the target users? (Again: don’t waste time describing programming/computer science related aspects — this is not the focus of your project work).
Behavioral principles: What behavioral theory are you using in your app to help people with the target issue?
Development: Here you address the related issues in point 2.3 above.
Conclusion: Your final thoughts.
You can also change the order of the section, e.g. by discussing the behavioral principles before the app description.
Content: slides should summarize the key points in a very simplified way. I include three examples: these are projects developed by students of the “Psychology and Personal Finance” course by Shlomo Benartzi at UCLA. You can have a look at them to have an idea of the type of output that you should produce. Language: English. Please include your student ID in the first slide.
A few rules
You can work in groups of up to 4 students or individually. You are free to make your decision. If you work in group, you should let me know the composition, i.e. the name of the students in the same group. You are asked to let me know this by email at firstname.lastname@example.org by July 20 (i.e. 2 weeks from today). Students working in a group will receive the same grade and have to produce the same output as students working individually.
Deadline: the original deadline was July 27 but teachers are asked to allow for a 3 weeks extension of the deadline during this semester. So, you have until August 17 at 3pm to deliver your project (report+slides). Projects submitted after the deadline will not be considered and will result in a failing grade. You can submit your project earlier than the deadline, of course. In any case, once a project is submitted, that version will be considered as the final one and no other changes will be possible. Grades will be made available by the Examination Office to all students at the same time, regardless of the submission date of your project.
Projects must be submitted directly to me via email at email@example.com. Together with you project you will have to send me a signed copy of the declaration that you find attached to this message. If you work in group, I will need a copy for each member of the group. It is very important to add your student ID to the title page of the Report and the Slides.
Our lecture on July 14 will be live on Zoom and will dedicated exclusively to your projects. The idea is that you can take that time to ask me questions/clarifications/doubts/feedback about your projects. Also the class on July 16 will be live on Zoom. The zoom links to both will be provided a few days in advance.
PS. If you have received this email more than once, I’m sorry: there was a problem with the email delivery system.