Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Bryan Foltice


This study evaluates locus of control, debt overhang, and framing effects as potential drivers of retirement savings decisions. We use a hypothetical scenario administered through an online survey to analyze how much an individual will save for retirement. The study finds that individuals who measure as having an external locus of control (based off the Rotter I-E scale), contribute significantly less to their retirement savings than individuals with an internal locus of control. Interestingly, this study finds no significant relationship between debt overhang and initial contributions. To measure framing effects, participants were given the choice to change their initial contribution rate after learning the increased amount of their account balance based on how much of their salary they saved. The increased amount of the account was given based off either a percentage of salary (frame 1) or a dollar amount of salary (frame 2). The survey results show that individuals that were given the percentage frame increase their initial contribution to their retirement account significantly more than the group receiving the dollar frame.