Einstein's Theory Meets the World of Finance

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 21, 2019) Although it may seem like a stretch, Albert Einstein's theory of space and time may have a relevant connection to the world of finance. Adam Craig, assistant professor of marketing and supply chain and Ashland Oil Research Fellow in the University of Kentucky's Gatton College of Business and Economics, co-authored a research paper titled "How the Spatial Representation of Time Influences Intertemporal Choices." The research paper, exploring the connection between space and time and future time-related judgments and decisions, was newly published in the Journal of Marketing Research.

Knowing that showing time durations make the durations seem longer, Craig and his research team examined whether displaying time-related decisions, such as an Amazon delivery, for example, horizontally or vertically could lead people to think about time delays differently and ultimately influence decisions.

The team discovered that horizontal, temporal displays, such as a two-day or five-day shipping choice on Amazon, enhanced the amount of attention customers give to waiting when compared to their vertical counterparts.

Researchers found that on a website like Amazon, consumers are more likely to choose faster delivery even when they are offered a financial reward for receiving their package a couple days later. This phenomenon may happen less if retailers organized the delivery options vertically rather than horizontally.

"We tend to think of our financial decisions as simply being about the numbers, but our results show that how the information is presented to us as consumers impacts how we use it," Craig said.

He believes that this research can be applied to consumers across several industries. For example, individuals working in financial service industries can harness these results to help consumers save earlier and save more toward their retirement.

Co-authored with Marisabel Romero, of Colorado State University, and Anand Kumar, of the University of South Florida, the research paper has been published in several journals.