Savers more confident, calm and optimistic

Almost half (47%) of respondents who take control and check their finances every month feel confident about their financial future, according to research by Standard Life, conducted by neuroscience research agency Mindlab and appraised by cognitive neuroscientist Dr Lynda Shaw.

The Saving in mind report used both electroencephalography (EEG) techniques within a laboratory environment and a benchmarking questionnaire to assess the relationship between savings and emotions. 

It found that, among those who save for retirement, significantly more feel optimistic, calm and hopeful, while those who do not save are anxious, insecure and pessimistic.

The research also found:

  • Among those who never check their finances, only 4% feel confident.
  • More than half (57%) of respondents saving for the future feel optimistic, compared to just 20% of those who are not saving for the future.
  • Only a quarter (25%) of savers feel pessimistic, compared to 44% of non-savers.

Stephen Ingledew (pictured), managing director, customer and marketing at Standard Life, said: “We recognised some time ago that if we are to support people as best we can and help them save for their future, we really needed to understand their emotions.

“Insights from psychology and behavioural economics tell us that the decisions people make are not always rational, and that emotions play an important role.

“We now know that people can feel all kinds of emotions when they think about saving for the future, from anxiety and hopelessness, to optimism and security, and how they approach their savings is an important factor.

“We also have compelling evidence that the right communications can help to change the way we feel. The future of savings communications should be personal and positive, not nebulous and negative. 

“The results show that positive communication with guidance on what to do next helps people feel more motivated and able to take action. In turn, when considering our family’s welfare, it can also stimulate the love hormone oxytocin which actually makes us feel good.

Dr Shaw added: “The results of this study showed that just offering savings guidance (simple steps as to what to do next) regardless of emotional tone did, in fact, increase participant’s intention to save. This is highly relevant. 

“We live in an age of information saturation. At the press of a button, we can access an incredible amount of information that is both overwhelming and confusing. It can be argued that guidance on what to do next not only promotes curiosity and interest, but also simplifies. It helps people feel confident to make that next step.”