Author's School

Olin Business School

Author's Department



English (en)

Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Cynthia Cryder

Committee Members

Robyn LeBoeuf, Sydney Scott, Hannah Perfecto, Rachel Gershon,


Consumers and marketers find it challenging to communicate money matters. For example, consumers experience discomfort and uneasiness when discussing financial issues with their social relationships. Firms often receive backlash when sharing their good financial deeds (e.g., charitable efforts) with consumers. Because financial matters can be a sensitive topic, in my research, I explore the difficulties consumers and marketers experience when communicating money issues and how they can better navigate these problems.In Chapter One, I investigate a particularly uneasy interaction that consumers often face with their friends and acquaintances: the need to ask for money back. Seven fully preregistered studies (N = 5,543) show that consumers’ approach to resolving peer debt varies based on their closeness with the requestee. Specifically, consumers prefer communication methods low in social richness (e.g., digital apps) when requesting money back from weak social connections such as distant acquaintances. However, they prefer communication methods high in social richness (e.g., in-person interactions) when requesting money back from strong social connections such as close friends. Process evidence shows that this pattern occurs because 1) consumers anticipate discomfort when requesting money back from distant acquaintances in person, driving them away from in-person requests and toward digital apps, and 2) consumers are more averse to appearing impersonal with close friends, driving them away from digital apps and toward in-person requests. In sum, consumers adaptively approach financial interactions based on the relationship dynamics at hand. In Chapter Two, I investigate a domain where firms and marketers encounter issues communicating their finances with consumers: sharing their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. CSR is essential for a firm’s brand image and financial success, but consumers often doubt whether these engagements are self-interested marketing strategies driven by profit. Then, how might firms effectively communicate their CSR activities? Across seven preregistered experiments (N = 147,996; two field experiments and five lab experiments), we find that donations presented as a series of periodic donations (e.g., $1000 donation per month for 12 months) improve company favorability more so than equivalent donation pledges presented in an aggregate frame (e.g., a donation of $12,000). We further show that the effectiveness of this temporal framing is driven by the perceived commitment towards the cause – when a company frames its donations periodically, consumers perceive the company to be more committed to supporting the cause, increasing company favorability.