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Social Networks and Credit Card Overspending Among Young Adult Consumers


  • The authors wish to thank Sema Barlas for her help in designing this research and the reviewers for their helpful comments.


Research that has looked at the reasons why young individuals overspend using their credit cards has not paid attention to the perceptions that they have about important others' credit card debt, their expectations as to how much to spend when they consume in the presence of them, and how the strength of the social relationships within their social network potentially influences the extent to which they overspend using their credit cards. A survey of 225 US university students composing a culturally diverse sample revealed that these social norms and network variables have interactive effects on credit card overspending. Specifically, the results show that the perceptions that young adult consumers have about important others' credit card debt impact their overspending using credit cards when they feel that they are expected to consume at the same level as important others in shared experiences, and when they are strongly connected to these individuals.