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First direct asks customers to save for a 'brainy' day

25 May 2010  |  7375 views  |  0 Team meeting

The ability to save money - and your willingness to switch banks - is determined by the side of the brain you think with, according to research commissioned by UK online bank first direct.

The study - carried out at Hertfordshire University by psychologist and author of Sheconomics, Professor Karen Pine - found those who gave right-side of the brain responses (typically creative and impulsive types), have a carefree 'live for today' attitude, credit card debts and little or no savings.

But deeper thinkers, who responded using the left-side of the brain - careful and logical types - are far more comfortable managing their finances, it emerged.

Professor Pine began the experiment by asking 500 adults a brain-teaser compiled by US-based scientists.

She examined their answers and found that only one in three people got the answer right; these people were classed as 'reflectors' - who think with the left-side of the brain.

When participants who gave the wrong answer - described as 'intuiters' - were asked about their attitude to money, it was found they had fewer savings, credit card debt and a lax attitude to money management.

The report of the study also showed 43% of 'intuitors' had been with the same bank since leaving school. For some this was 30 years ago or longer. In contrast, one in four 'reflectors' had changed where they bank at least twice

Professor Pine, comments: "Reactive people can't suppress the first answer that springs to mind. They're the kind of people who live for the moment and avoid putting effort into anything that doesn't bring short-term gain. This can be linked to poor money management, such as only making the minimum repayment on a credit card.

"Intuitors might feel dissatisfied with their bank, too, but don't change it."

Finextra verdict A mildly diverting set of results that first direct is using to promote its easyswitch service for attracting customers from other banks. Harmless enough - unless the bank has plans to invest in brain scanning technology to add to its armoury of credit scoring techniques. Of course, the profit-motivated card issuer would probably reject reflectors (66% of whom pay off their credit card bill in full every month) in favour of the more impetuous intuitors.

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