To play, press and hold the enter key. To stop, release the enter key.

Research Overview




My research focuses on the psychology behind important financial decisions (for example, how individuals judge financial advisers and make difficult investment decisions in retirement plans). In addition, I investigate the role of financial literacy in these choices.  To study these issues, I use a variety of methodologies (field studies, laboratory experiments, online discrete choice experiments, analyses of large administrative datasets and surveys).


While my early research focused primarily on consumers in the U.S., I have recently expanded my research internationally. Follow this link for examples of my recent work in Australia.


To get a quick feel for my research, click on the pictures below to find short easy-to-read summaries of my projects, press articles, videos and government publications citing my work.



Large laboratory experiment

This document provides an easy to read description of a large scale laboratory experiment we conducted to study factors influencing an investors decision between an annuity and a lump sum. This research was published in the American Economic Review in 2008.


Ideation profile

This is a story about the annuity experiment featured in W&M's Ideation publication.

CFA Magazine feature

“The Pool and the Stream,” by Susan Trammell, CFA Magazine, March-April 2008. This article describes our annuity experiment.

Senate Testimony This is a video of my testimony to the US Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee and a link to the resulting report.


Trust and Financial Advisers: An Online Incentivized Discrete Choice Experiment

This is a short 5 minute video interview I recorded when we first started our joint research project focusing on how trust is developed over time between a consumer and a financial adviser. This is a blog about the final results written for the WSJ.


Savings, goal setting and time 

This Center for Retirement Research Issue Brief describes a work-in-progress examining how to better encourage younger workers to save for retirement by changing the goal length and the phrasing of the advertisement.  An updated version of the paper should be completed soon.


Study demonstrating inertia in 401(k) plan using large administrative dataset

Summary of “Portfolio Choice and Trading in a Large 401(k) Plan,” (with Pierluigi Balduzzi and Annika Sunden) by James W. Vitalone, in CFA Digest, November 2003, Vol. 33, No.4: 65-66.

Study examining company stock holdings and the conditional 1/n heuristic using a large administrative dataset

Summary of “Do Behavioral Biases Vary Across Individuals?: Evidence from Individual Level 401(k) Data,” by William H. Sackley, CFA in CFA Digest, May 2007, Vol. 37, No. 2: 92.

Study using survey and administrative data

“Blindsided,” by Susan Trammell,  CFA Magazine, September-October 2008. This article describes a co-authored study. We analyze a unique dataset that combines survey data with administrative data. We uncover different reasons why individuals participate in 401(k) plans with opt in and opt out regimes. The paper discussed has been published in the Journal of Pension Economics and Finance.




-Scroll left and right with arrows.  Click boxes to read news articles-