Attitudes to debt among indebted undergraduates: A cross-national exploratory factor analysis

Neil Harrison, Steve Agnew, Joyce Serido

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


This paper reports the results of a cross-national study spanning England, New Zealand and the United States. A total of 496 first year undergraduates studying business or social science completed a 20-item questionnaire. This focused on their attitudes to their debt incurred while studying, as measured on a five-point Likert scale. A factor analysis model was developed, from which four consistent factors emerged, explaining 45 percent of the variation and consistent between countries. These factors were named: Anxiety, Utility-For-Lifestyle, Utility-For-Investment and Awareness. The first three factors were found to be uncorrelated with each other, but higher Awareness was associated with lower levels of Anxiety and Utility-For-Lifestyle and higher levels of Utility-For-Investment. The relationship with previous studies and implications for theory and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-73
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Economic Psychology
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The lead author would like to acknowledge financial support (grant reference SG130227) from the Leverhulme Trust via the British Academy’s Small Grants Programme.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier B.V.


  • Consumer attitudes and behaviour
  • Debt attitudes
  • Educational finance
  • Factor analysis
  • Higher education


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