Academic journal article Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

Comparison of Affective Credit Attitude Scores and Credit Use of College Students at Two Points in Time

Academic journal article Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

Comparison of Affective Credit Attitude Scores and Credit Use of College Students at Two Points in Time

Article excerpt



This study examines college students' use of credit at two points in time. One hundred twenty college students from six unit versities were studied in the spring of 1997 and 1999. During this period, 60 students graduated. Results show that 41 stir dents had more credit cards in 1999 than in 1997; 62 students had fewer credit cards. Thirty-two students had fewer credit cards. Thirty-two students were now pay ing on their student loans. Contrary to what was expected based on prior studies; affective credit attitudes scores for those students with four or more credit cards and students who had graduated were lower in 1999 than they were in 1997.

Several studies have examined college students' use of credit at one period in time. Several researchers found that older students scored higher on the affective credit attitude scale than younger students (Davis and Lea, 1995; Hayhoe, Leach, and Turner, 1999; Xiao, Noring, and Anderson, 1995). The affective credit attitude score measures how a student feels about using credit. A high score indicates that the student enjoyed using credit.

The purpose of this study was to examine the affective credit attitude of the same college students at two points of time and investigate whether or not the affective credit attitude score increases with age.


Credit Attitudes

Changing attitudes toward money are an important catalyst within the consumer culture (Ritzer, 1995; Zukerman, 2000).

The current culture produces young adults who exhibit high credit card usage. Between 70 and 80% of all college students have at least one credit card and most have an average of three credit cards (Armstrong and Craven, 1993; Jamba-joyner et al., 2000; Hayhoe and Leach, 1997, Hershey, 1996; Jover and Allen, 1996; O'Malley, 2001; Punch, 1991; Xiao et al., 1995). Nearly two-thirds of all college students received credit cards on or before their freshman year (Susswein, 1995). Xiao et al. (1995) examined credit card usage and attitudes among college students at an eastern university and found that 82 % of the students surveyed had favorable affective credit card attitudes. This was measured by the credit attitude scales.

College students have grown up in a credit card society and use this type of debt freely (Ritzer, 1995). Lea, Webley, and Walker (1995) express this as the growth of a "culture of indebtedness." An important factor in predicting debt status was whether respondents know other people around them who are in debt. A "community of debtors" creates an environment that reinforces one's beliefs and attitudes. When college students are trying to "fit in" with a group, joining a "community of debtors" can be an outcome.

Davies and Lea (1995) examined attitudes toward student debt (student loans, bank overdrafts, credit cards, and money owed family and friends) by using a sample of students from the United Kingdom. Their findings suggested that higher income predisposes students to higher levels of debt. Because their long-term income expectations would be high, they were accustomed to a relatively comfortable lifestyle and reluctant to relinquish it. Their examination suggested two distinct processes linking income and debt: (1) low income combined with high necessary expenditures and (2) the higher their incomes, the higher the debt. They found that students, initially, were not disposed to debt. However, when students found themselves in an environment where going into debt was convenient and easy, their attitudes changed.

Hayhoe et al. (1999) examined factors influencing college students' credit attitudes at five universities. They found that students with high affective credit attitude scores were likely to have credit cards.

Number of Credit Cards

The Hayhoe et al. (1999) study also identified nine variables (1) affective credit attitude score, (2) age, (3) cognitive credit attitude score, (4) gender, (5) having taken a class in personal finance, (6) borrowing from friends and relatives, (7) retention money attitude, (8) money used as a reward in family of origin, and (9) preparing a list before shopping. …

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