Dishonest acts are all too prevalent in day-to-day life. In the current review, we examine some possible psychological causes for such dishonesty that go beyond the standard economic considerations of probability and value of external payoffs. We propose a general model of dishonest behavior that includes also internal psychological reward mechanisms for honesty and dishonesty, and we point to the implications of this model in terms of curbing dishonesty.
The worldwide HIV-AIDS epidemic has generated intense criticism of pharmaceutical drug prices, a natural consequence of the industry's unique cost structure. A number of persons have proposed that the industry adopt what might be called a stakeholder model in place of the traditional profit-driven model. But the rapid drop in HIV drug prices, combined with generic entry and de facto abandonment of patent rights, has revealed the extremely limited role played by drug prices and access in the face of fundamental problems in infrastructure, prevention, and other essential elements in battling HIV-AIDS. Adoption of a stakeholder approach is likely to undermine essential R&D while doing little to curtail the HIV-AIDS epidemic.
The concept of intersectionality refers to the interactivity of social identity structures such as race, class, and gender in fostering life experiences, especially experiences of privilege and oppression. This essay maps out the origins, evolution, and many contemporary meanings of intersectionality to make a notoriously ambiguous idea more concrete. Next, the essay clarifies the tenets of the intersectionality literature by contrasting traditional and intersectional researchon marketplace diversity along three dimensions: ontology, methodology, and axiology. The essay concludes with implications for radicalizing diversity research, marketing, and advocacy.
This study examines the role of the highest levels of caloric knowledge, obesity consequences knowledge, and motivation to search for nutrition information in the processing of relative nutrient content claims in advertisements, such as “half the calories” or “half the fat,” for products relatively high in total calorie levels. After controlling for the impact of demographics, dietary habits, body mass index, relative ad claims and disclosures, perceived weight gain risk, and other variables, the authors find curvilinear (quadratic) effects for caloric knowledge, obesity consequences knowledge, and motivation to search for nutrition information on intent to buy an advertised, high-calorie snack bar. This suggests a strengthening of the negative relationship for intent for consumers at the highest levels of caloric knowledge, obesity consequences knowledge, and motivation (i.e., the “nutrition elite”). The authors offer public policy implications, including whether achieving such exceedingly high levels of nutrition knowledge and motivation is realistic for the general public in light of other policy alternatives, such as market-based solutions (e.g., reducing serving sizes, standardized front-of-package icons).
Prior research demonstrates that the proximity of fast-food restaurants to schools is related to higher youth body weight and also suggests that this relationship may be stronger in urban areas. Research also suggests that some segments of youth may be more vulnerable to this relationship than others. We investigate the relationship of fast-food proximity to middle and high schools and adolescent weight outcomes, with a focus on understanding intra-urban differences across groups defined by ethnicity and school income. Results suggest that body weight associations with proximity to a fast-food restaurant from school are not equal for all youth. Black and Hispanic students at low-income and urban schools have higher associations between school-fast food distance and youth body weight, up to four times greater than general distance associations. We discuss findings in light of the complexity of understanding the relationship between retail marketing proximity and weight-related associations among youth, as well as obesity disparities.
In 2008, the FCC initiated a docket to determine if existing TV sponsorship regulations need to be revised to address embedded advertising. This paper first discusses current embedded advertising practices on television and the alleged problems with those practices. Then the paper explains the current legal framework applicable to the practices. Next, the paper analyzes the major reform positions that were articulated in comments to the FCC. This analysis includes a discussion of the first amendment protections for advertising as well as the creative works in which the integrated marketing is embedded, since the advertising is difficult to separate from its entertainment platform. The paper concludes with recommendations for next steps by the FCC and industry.
This article considers several aspects of the economic decision making of the poor from the perspective of behavioral economics, and it focuses on potential contributions from marketing. Among other things, the authors consider some relevant facets of the social and institutional environments in which the poor interact, and they review some behavioral patterns that are likely to arise in these contexts. A behaviorally more informed perspective can help make sense of what might otherwise be considered “puzzles” in the economic comportment of the poor. A behavioral analysis suggests that substantial welfare changes could result from relatively minor policy interventions, and insightful marketing may provide much needed help in the design of such interventions. Economics
How can tax payment be made more satisfying? This paper argues that the low volition and collective nature of tax-funded benefits as primary causes of low satisfaction with tax payment. Three studies then suggest that providing individuals with the opportunity to allocate a small portion (in the present research, 10%) of their payment across budgets provided by the billing party both introduces an element of volition into the payment process and increases the perceived benefit associated with tax payment. As a result, taxpayers are significantly more satisfied with paying taxes, despite the fact that their payment amount remains completely unchanged. In addition to enhancing taxpayer satisfaction, an allocation program, if well-implemented, could also provide some hope for correcting existing lack of voice, address disconnects between spending and taxpayers’ priorities, and increase civic engagement in general.
Marketers have shown increasing interest in the use of corporate societal marketing (CSM) programs. In this article, the authors describe six means by which CSM programs can build brand equity: (1) building brand awareness, (2) enhancing brand image, (3) establishing brand credibility, (4) evoking brand feelings, (5) creating a sense of brand community, and (6) eliciting brand engagement. The authors also address three key questions revolving around how CSM programs have their effects, which cause the firm should choose, and how CSM programs should be branded. The authors offer a series of research propositions throughout and conclude by outlining a set of potential future research directions.
The paper pulls together streams of culture-related research found in information processing and behavioral decision theory literatures, and complements them with a focus on motivations and goals. We propose a framework that suggests that (a) the treatment of culture is useful when it incorporates subcultures, including those defined by nationality, ethnicity, religious affiliation, and neighborhood or local surroundings, (b) goals are determined by both cultural background and situational forces, and (c) via its impact on goals, culture influences the inputs utilized in a decision, the types of options preferred and the timing of decisions. Implications of the framework are highlighted for two policy domains, health and savings/spending. We suggest that consumers' goal orientations can provide a useful segmentation dimension, and carve out specific tendencies that appear to vary across cultural contexts (e.g., satisficing, goal shifting, reactivity). A deeper consideration of consumer goals and the role played by culture in individual decision making can inform policies seeking to improve the quality of consumers' decisions and ultimately consumer welfare.
This research examines how people choose among different public health insurance plans and assesses the factors that influence their choice. The authors explore two types of choice: active choice, in which consumers explicitly choose a plan, and passive/no choice, in which consumers take no action in choosing their plan. Using administrative and survey data for a sample of Medicaid recipients from a state that recently redesigned its Medicaid program, the authors identify what drives consumers’ choices using constructs loosely framed by classic motivation, opportunity, and ability models. The results show that when consumers engage in active decision making, there are few barriers to selecting a wellness-based health plan with greater prescription coverage. In addition, the findings suggest that it is important for informed people, such as health care professionals, to be involved in plan choice. Unexpectedly, Medicaid recipients who rely on word-of-mouth communication tend to avoid active choice.
Programs intended to improve nutrition often fall short of expectations. One exception, however, occurred during the rationing years of World War II, when U.S. citizens were encouraged to incorporate protein-rich organ meats into their protein-deficient diets. Unfortunately,, most of tire insights resulting from these efforts remained unpublished or ill limited distribution. For the first time, the author synthesizes selected studies from this era according to how the program restructured social norms, changed perceptions of taste, and helped assimilate variety into the U.S. diet. The author discusses the behaviorally driven implications from these "lost lessons" in the context of the empirical contributions they, made in defining what makes all unfavorable food acceptable.
Two studies investigate the influence of developmental variables on the emergence of persuasion knowledge in children ages three to five years. Theory of mind (a form of social development) consistently explains a significant amount of variance in children's persuasion knowledge. Theory of mind is a well-researched variable in the developmental psychology literature. This form of social development enables a child to understand the mental states of others and to use that mental state understanding to predict others' future behavior. The results of the current study indicate that before theory-of-mind development, children are unable to recognize persuasion in advertising, most likely because they cannot think about the intentions of the advertiser. The findings are important to the development of child consumer literacy and contribute to the extant literature by demonstrating that developmental factors can explain how persuasion knowledge develops. The authors discuss theoretical, practical, and public policy implications.
Firms are increasingly devoting attention to corporate citizenship initiatives. Despite the great interest in these initiatives, there is little academic research on their potential effects to guide managerial decisions. This article draws on theories from the consumer behavior literature to identify how socially oriented programs can foster both consumer and employee engagement, while also improving the welfare of society at-large and the financial fortunes of companies. In doing so, the authors advance a research agenda and offer prescriptive managerial advice.
A proposed method of combating obesity in the United States is to hold food companies legally liable for obesity-related damages. Recent lawsuits against fast-food restaurants, such as Pelman v. McDonald's Corp., have tried to draw on the success of tobacco litigation by claiming that fast-food marketers provide misleading information about the nutritional value of their products, leading consumers to overconsume and, thus, become obese. The Pelman plaintiffs also allege that fast food is addictive and have asked to represent a class of children who have become obese as a result of McDonald's products. This article compares legal efforts against the aggressive marketing of fast food with those against the marketing of tobacco products and argues that, for several reasons, such legal efforts will face substantial hurdles. In particular, this article argues that to be successful, such lawsuits must show either that McDonald's acted deceptively or that it has a duty to warn consumers about the unhealthful nature of its products. In addition, they must show that they satisfy the requirements necessary to certify a class. Finally, they must gain public and legislative support for legal action. Without these lawsuits satisfying the necessary legal elements and gaining increased public support for legal action against the industry, it seems unlikely that the fast-food industry will be held responsible for obesity-related damages. Having concluded that the tobacco litigation experience does not offer a promising road map to combat obesity, the authors briefly consider the vulnerability of the food industry to alternative legal strategies and legislative actions.
Firms striving to reach consumers through today's swell of marketing clutter frequently are employing novel marketing practices. Although many nontraditional marketing messages are effective through clever, entertaining, and ultimately benign means, others rely on deception to reach consumers. In particular, one form of covert marketing known as stealth marketing uses surreptitious practices that fail to disclose or reveal the true relationship with the company producing or sponsoring the marketing message. As well as deception, stealth marketing can also involve intrusion and exploitation of social relationships as means of achieving effectiveness. In this paper, we consider the ethical implications using three stealth marketing case studies. We cast our discussion in the context of consumer defense mechanisms by employing the skepticism and persuasion knowledge literatures to help explain the effectiveness of these practices. Having identified the ethical problems inherent to stealth marketing, our analysis concludes with recommendations for marketers and public policymakers.
The authors use social control theory to develop a conceptual model that addresses the effectiveness of regulatory agencies' (e.g., Food and Drug Administration, Occupational Safety and Health Administration) field-level efforts to obtain conformance with product safety laws. Central to the model are the control processes agencies use when monitoring organizations and enforcing the safety rules. These approaches can be labeled formal control (e.g., rigid enforcement) and informal control (e:g., social instruction). The theoretical framework identifies an important antecedent of control and the relative effectiveness of control's alternative forms in gaining compliance and reducing opportunism. Furthermore, the model predicts that the regulated firms' level of agreement with the safety rules moderates the relationships between control and firm responses. A local health department's administration of state food safety regulations provides the empirical context for testing the hypotheses. The results from a survey of 173 restaurants largely support the proposed model. The study findings inform a discussion of effective methods of administering product safety laws.
Consumer researchers have conceptualized brand name dilution in terms of the potentially damaging effects that a company's own brand extensions can have on beliefs and attitudes toward its parent brands. A different form of dilution, trademark dilution, can also occur through the unauthorized use of a mark (brand, logo, etc.) by an entity other than its owner. With passage of the Federal Trademark Dilution Act in 1996, an increasing number of trademark dilution cases are being litigated. A recurring issue in these cases has been how to measure trademark dilution. This paper reviews the concept of trademark dilution and explores how recognition and recall based methods can be used for empirically assessing trademark dilution. The impact of brand familiarity and product category similarity on the extent of trademark dilution is also investigated. Implications, limitations, and areas for further research are discussed.
The formulation of corporate social responsibility standards must deal with conflicting interests among stakeholders. The standards formulation process occurs at the junction between market stakeholders and special interest groups, which implies that it may help increase understanding of the marketing–society relationship. Drawing on the power and urgency dimensions of stakeholder identification theory and decision process analysis, this study examines four case studies pertaining to animal welfare issues in food marketing. The standards formulation processes contain control mechanisms that solve the potential conflicts between stakeholders by constraining commercial and/or special interests. These mechanisms vary in the degree to which discussion centers on the relationship between commercial and special interests, the presence of new parties that may alter the negotiations, the stage at which special interest groups become involved in the process, and the extent to which commercial and special interests constrain each other. The findings have critical implications for how companies and their stakeholders can organize the process of formulating corporate social responsibility standards. Keywords: stakeholder marketing, corporate social responsibility, stakeholder identification theory, legitimacy, standards
This essay explores sustainable consumption and considers possible roles for marketing and consumer researchers and public policy makers in addressing the many sustainability challenges that pervade the planet. Future research approaches to this interdisciplinary topic must be comprehensive and systematic and would benefit from a variety of different perspectives. There are several opportunities for further research; the authors explore three areas in detail. First, they consider the inconsistency between the attitudes and behaviors of consumers with respect to sustainability. Second, they broaden the agenda to explore the role of individual citizens in society. Third, they propose a macroinstitutional approach to fostering sustainability. For each of these separate, but interrelated, opportunities, the authors examine the area in detail and consider possible research avenues and public policy initiatives.
Intellectual property piracy is a significant global problem and an enormous problem for U.S. companies and policymakers. This article examines why typically law-abiding people are more inclined to steal intellectual property products than more tangible, material products. The authors propose that the inclination to pay for certain types of goods and services is greater than for other types, and what distinguishes the two classes is their cost structure. They document how consumers are more or less inclined to pay for goods and services as a function of whether the product's cost is principally attributable to variable cost (VC) or fixed cost (FC). The authors' central thesis is that consumers (1) believe that they cause less harm if their failure to pay prevents a seller from recovering FC than if their failure to pay helps a seller recoup VC; (2) are more likely to risk not paying for a product the less harm they perceive that not paying would cause; and (3) therefore feel less obligated and are less likely to pay voluntarily for a high-FC, low-VC product than for a high-VC, low-FC product, when total cost and average cost are held constant. This research is particularly relevant in the information age, because it helps explain why consumers appear to be more inclined to risk stealing software and other intellectual property products with relatively high FC and little or no VC. It also allows for the creation of marketing remedies that do not involve further legal enforcement.
Despite claims that electronic commerce lowers search costs dramatically, and therefore makes it easy for consumers to spot the best buy, empirical studies have found a substantial degree of price dispersion in electronic markets for consumer goods. This study investigates the consumer welfare implications of observed price levels and price dispersion in electronic markets. We examine the consumer welfare implications of changes in the structure of electronic commerce markets employing comprehensive data sets on e-tailer prices and services collected from BizRate.com in November 2000 and 2001. We find that price dispersion decreased substantially between these two periods, and that measured differences in e-tailer services bear little relation to e-tailer prices.
Few marketing problems in society lead to the tragedy of harm that can result when firearms are diverted from the legal to the illegal marketplace. Product diversion is itself a serious concern for marketers, especially marketers of potentially dangerous products such as tobacco, alcohol, firearms, and pharmaceuticals. These products may be sought and obtained by consumers occupying illegal markets, or intent on using them for illegal purposes, leading to adverse consequences for other consumers, marketers and society at large. Drawing on established marketing principles and accepted methods of forensic research, this paper reports on a large-scale study of the diversion of handguns in the U.S. and the countermarketing and demarketing efforts of firearm marketers to safeguard against its occurrence through their distribution systems. The findings suggest that: (1) significant diversion of handguns to illegal markets occurred in the U.S. during a recent period, (2) industry marketers varied widely in their use of safeguards against this diversion, but on average engaged in few countermarketing and demarketing measures, and (3) the safeguarding efforts engaged in were found to both reduce diversion and its resultant crimes. The study and its findings help to inform understanding of the nature and effects of firearm diversion and the use of countermarketing and demarketing safeguards to reduce its occurrence. The study also demonstrates the use of data and data collection methodologies from the legal process to inform questions about marketing including controversial aspects of its practice. Overall, the research adds to extant thinking concerning countermarketing and demarketing as well as the related areas of social marketing, corporate responsibility and public health.
This manuscript assesses the impact of the Supreme Court decision Moseley v. V Secret Catalogue, Inc. on methods of proving trademark dilution in federal court. This manuscript surveys federal court decisions that have interpreted Moseley's rulings on trademark dilution. This manuscript concludes that brand owners are most successful in federal court when the challenged junior user's brand is identical to the senior user's brand. In light of results that indicate consumer surveys play a minimal role in post-Moseley case and are susceptible to rejection by courts, this manuscript suggests alternative survey approaches that best satisfy Moseley's rigorous requirements.
In this article, the authors report the findings of an exploratory study that examines the challenges of developing a market orientation in China, the world's largest transitional economy. The findings suggest that though managerial actions are relevant, in transitional economies, environmental factors-most notably, government policies-are a major influence on firms' aspirations to be market oriented.
The relatively recent entry of multinational corporations (MNCs) into low-income markets, particularly in developing countries, affords the opportunity for the more inclusive capitalism envisioned by globalists. Alternatively, an expansion of MNC marketing in less developed economies might foreshadow the greater exploitation of disadvantaged consumers predicted by many critics of expanded free trade. To diffuse the charge of “exploitative” marketing, it is imperative that corporate marketing efforts seeking to engage impoverished segments be grounded in a strong ethical framework. This article unveils one such framework—the “integrative justice model” (IJM). The IJM is an aspirational model that outlines how to market ethically to disadvantaged consumers in both developed and developing countries. The authors derive the elements of this model from frameworks of moral philosophy and management theory. Although the IJM is normative in nature, the authors connect it to real-world examples, which provides MNCs that market to the poor practical benchmarks for conducting their business operations with fairness and equity. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of the IJM for public policy.
During the past half century, marketers generally have heeded Levitt's (1960) advice to avoid "marketing myopia" by focusing on customers. We argue that they learned this lesson too well, resulting today in a new form of marketing myopia, which also causes distortions in strategic vision and can lead to business failure. The New Marketing Myopia stems from three related phenomena: 1) a single-minded focus on the customer to the exclusion of other stakeholders; 2) an overly narrow definition of the customer and his/her needs; and 3) a failure to recognize the changed societal context of business that necessitates addressing multiple stakeholders. We illustrate these phenomena and then offer a vision of marketing management as an activity that engages multiple stakeholders in value creation, suggesting that marketing can bring a particular expertise to bear. We offer five propositions for practice that would help marketers correct the myopia: 1) map the company's stakeholders, 2) determine stakeholder salience, 3) research stakeholder issues and expectations and measure impact, 4) engage with stakeholders, and 5) embed a stakeholder orientation. We conclude by noting their implications for research.
Somehow, consumer research has forgotten about risk. Much research has focused on frequently purchased packaged goods, and so it might be understandable that the concept of risk has lingered in the shadows. Although risk is involved in the purchase of packaged goods, it is minor compared with that in other domains of much greater economic consequence. This special issue will not remedy this neglect, but I want to introduce briefly some of the relevant literature in the hopes that some people will be inspired by the fine set of articles contained herein and that a few guideposts will be helpful starting points. I provide a brief sketch, focusing on pointers to more complete introductions, and draw illustrations from the domain of insurance decisions.
A content analysis of 568 cigarette ads during 1926–86 found that most explicit claims (i.e., statements) are about health, construction, and taste. Consistent with theoretical predictions, and contrary to popular belief, health claims emphasized the negative health aspects of smoking, except when prevented by regulation. Moreover, emphasis in health claims corresponded to the dominant smoking-and-health fears of the time. Health-related claims came in two major waves, first in the late 1920s through the early 1950s, reaching a peak during the cancer scare of the early 1950s, and then again after 1966, when the FTC first allowed tar and nicotine claims, and later required tar and nicotine information and health warnings.
A quasi-experimental design is used to investigate whether the Magnuson-Moss Act succeeded in its efforts to transform a products warranty into an accurate signal of a products reliability, and to improve the overall level of warranty protection. The paradox of how an information remedy could create an accurate signal without changing how consumers process information is addressed.
This paper uses the controversy surrounding the Federal Trade Commission's 1983 Policy Statement on Deception as a focal point for discussing whether consumers are adequately protected from deceptive advertising, and, whether businesses have been given a clear direction regarding advertising rules. The role of the states, private litigation, and self-regulation are also assessed in terms of their ability to help control advertising deception in the marketplace.
The author conducted a content analysis to determine the frequency and context of alcohol and tobacco cues in daytime television soap opera programs broadcast in Fall 1986 and Fall 1991. Given societal concerns about alcohol and tobacco, one might expect the frequency and use of these products to be similar. This research found, however, that alcohol cues occurred significantly more frequently than tobacco cues and with significantly increasing frequency in 1991 versus 1986. The alcohol cues were found to be generic, in “appropriate” settings, and neither actively consumed nor directly related to storylines. Nevertheless, their increasing use could still be of concern.
In this article, the authors investigate the wealth effects of the passage of the food labeling regulation issued by the United States Nutritional Labeling and Education Act for a sample of large U.S. multinational food corporations using a standard event study methodology. The results show an adverse impact on shareholders' wealth around the Act's passage dates. The evidence is of significant value to policymakers and market participants as additional food labeling-related legislation is contemplated.
Given the increasing importance of the Internet as a platform for pharmaceutical marketing, drug companies have called for guidance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Of key concern is how marketers can fulfill the fair balance requirement within the space constraints of most social media platforms. The agency directs marketers to its administrative letters for clarity but has made no comprehensive assessment to articulate the guidance these letters offer, especially regarding areas in which the Internet differs from traditional media. This study offers such an assessment by examining all letters addressing violative Internet promotions from 1997 to 2012. The authors identify eight “principles in action,” including insight into the so-called one-click rule. These principles reveal how the FDA's thinking on online promotion has evolved since the 1997 draft guidance for broadcast direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs and can complement the agency's first guidance regarding interact...
The proposed agreement between the attorneys general of 39 states and the tobacco industry was announced on June 20, 1997. Central among its provisions are payments to the states by the tobacco industry totalling $368.5 billion over the next 25 years primarily to cover state Medicare and Medicaid costs for illnesses related to tobacco. Written into the agreement are several regulatory restrictions on the advertising and marketing of tobacco products. The industry would gain protection from some smoking-related lawsuits, punitive damages, and class actions. In this article, the authors adopt both consumer psychology and health behavior perspectives in considering a number of the agreement's limitations.
Given the increasing importance of the Internet as a platform for pharmaceutical marketing, drug companies have called for guidance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Of key concern is how marketers can fulfill the fair balance requirement within the space constraints of most social media platforms. The agency directs marketers to its administrative letters for clarity but has made no comprehensive assessment to articulate the guidance these letters offer, especially regarding areas in which the Internet differs from traditional media. This study offers such an assessment by examining all letters addressing violative Internet promotions from 1997 to 2012. The authors identify eight "principles in action," including insight into the so-called one-click rule. These principles reveal how the FDA's thinking on online promotion has evolved since the 1997 draft guidance for broadcast direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs and can complement the agency's first guidance regarding interactive promotion, released in 2014. The authors also identify areas the FDA has not addressed and offer suggestions.
This study investigates whether the Federal Trade Commission's Red Flag initiative (2003), which asked the media to voluntarily cease running ads for over-the-counter weight loss products that contained facially false statements, reduced deception in such ads. Strengths of the study include a large sample of ads in both magazines and on television; an extended postguideline period; and examination of a wide variety of statements, including those that are clearly false, those that are potentially deceptive, and warnings. The results indicate that (1) the Federal Trade Commission's Red Flag initiative is associated with a significant reduction in almost all false and potentially misleading statements, (2) the reduction in deception was greater for ads on television than those in magazines, and (3) a significant number of ads in the postguideline period continued to include false and potentially misleading statements. There is suggestive evidence of offsetting behavior; specifically, at the time that false statements were becoming less common, potentially misleading statements became more common. The author conclude by exploring implications for regulatory policy.
Federal judges frequently must use mass media advertising to provide legal notice in class actions to meet requirements of court rules and constitutional due process. Unlike most marketing situations, in which relatively low but sustained target audience coverage by advertising can help support long-term sales and profits, court rules and constitutional due process demand high class coverage within a relatively short time frame, often spanning 30 to 90 days. Yet judges and attorneys typically lack the expertise To determine the number of class members who are exposed to and read a mass media notice, and case law and official judicial guidelines provide minimal and thus inadequate information. The use of mass media notice without sufficient analyses of likely notice coverage among class members can jeopardize the rights of class members and the legal integrity of the proceedings. Therefore, courts should demand the use of state-of-the-art media planning procedures, as demonstrated in this study, to forecast due process performance of alternative notice plans.
There is continuing concern that many people are not saving enough for retirement. The authors conduct three studies to determine whether simple alterations to the format of 401(k) plans can increase plan participation rates, especially among people with low levels of financial knowledge. In Study 1, offering a larger number of funds for investment reduces plan participation among lowknowledge investors, unless the plan also offers a target retirement date (i.e., life-cycle fund) option. In Study 2, the authors find those with low knowledge are more likely to participate if the funds offered for investment are grouped by asset class rather than listed alphabetically. In Study 3, the authors find that participation increases when fund descriptions include star ratings (but not fund style boxes). They also find that star ratings increase decision satisfaction among low-knowledge investors because of a reduction in perceived task difficulty. Limitations, implications, and further research are discussed.