Archive for Monday, November 21, 2011

Heard on the Hill: Rhodes scholars often a point of pride for schools; universities will be watching federal budget this week; KU research shows credit cards users perceive less purchasing pain

November 21, 2011


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• KU had some exciting news over the weekend as Kelsey Murrell, of Kearney, Mo., won the 26th Rhodes scholarship in the university’s history.

Murrell is the first KU student to win a scholarship since 2004, when Ruth Anne French-Hodson received the award.

As I’ve written about previously, universities love to boast about how many of these scholarships their students have won (much to the consternation of the Rhodes folks).

Murrell joins a list of some pretty talented folks from some pretty good universities who won this year.

That list includes, by the way, the rather talented son of actress Mia Farrow and director Woody Allen.

• Universities all across the country will be watching the budget wrangling in Washington this week with interest.

Last week, at the Kansas Board of Regents meeting, Regent Kenny Wilk asked several university leaders what was worrying them.

Ed Hammond, who has served as president of Fort Hays State University since 1987, told Wilk that the discussions going on in Washington had the potential to significantly change the way higher education functions today.

He was particularly concerned with money available through Pell Grants and other student aid programs, and the amount of dollars available for research.

The implications on research, he said, have far greater potential to affect KU and Kansas State than they do his own university, which doesn’t conduct nearly the amount of research that those two universities do.

I’ll be watching, too, and it will be interesting to see what happens. I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

• Here’s some KU research that seems to confirm something I’ve always thought was true — buying something with a credit card feels a lot less painful than buying it with cash, according to this synopsis of the research from

“Like a starry-eyed new lover who ignores the downsides of an obviously incompatible but very attractive partner, consumers who swipe plastic when they buy are often blinded to the true costs of their purchases,” the article said. “They even tend to exaggerate the perceived benefits of whatever they're buying,” according to research by Promothesh Chatterjee, a relatively new assistant professor in KU’s School of Business (he just joined the faculty in fall 2010) and Randall L. Rose of the University of South Carolina.

Yeah, I don’t think I’d know anything about that at all…

• There are no credit cards or cash required for the Heard on the Hill tip jar — I deal in information, and if you’ve got some, send it my way at


Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 12 months ago

"buying something with a credit card feels a lot less painful than buying it with cash"

I was under the apparently mistaken impression that was common knowledge. A study had to be done to determine that again?

I consistently forget that what I consider to be common knowledge seems to be very uncommon. I almost always forget that apparently I read much more, and on a much more diverse number of subjects, than most people do. And, so many people have been shocked when I was able to recall the most minute details, down to many of the exact words used, of events that occurred decades before that I simply got used to it, and forgot about that too.

That has presented a problem a few times, such as when I met some classmates from high school that I had not seen for ten or fifteen years, and then attempted to resume our conversation at the point that it had been interrupted at only ten or fifteen years ago.

Many times, people would simply assume that I had brought some subject out of thin air, when the fact of the matter was that they had already forgotten what we were talking about only ten or fifteen years ago. But some my memory is very selective, and I have been able to determine on what basis it is selective in only a very vague way.

Life is very strange when you're me. And, it is very strange in many ways.

Years ago I read about that very same subject, however it was discussed from a different viewpoint. It was written from a merchant's point of view, and was discussing the relative merits of accepting credit cards, or not accepting them as payment. That dates the subject right there, since credit card usage is simply a way of life for many today, and if a merchant does not accept them, he is soon going to be out of business.

The conclusion was succinct: Yes, you do have to pay fees associated with accepting credit cards but it is worth it, because people that pay with a credit card usually spend about twice the amount that they would if they were paying with cash.

That was published years ago, but now this new study has confirmed this:

People's behavior has not changed at all.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 12 months ago

I have now read the synopsis completely through. It all depends on the answer to this question: Do you realize that you are spending actual money when you swipe that card?

If you check your credit card statement online often, you will be much more aware that it is real money that disappears when you make a credit card payment.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 12 months ago

Ron, you beat me to it.

I suppose it is valuable to confirm with data that which is intuitively true.

ignatius_j_reilly 5 years, 12 months ago

I'm glad scientists don't think like me and you, who would find something like this to be obvious and intuitive. Instead, they start with a intuitive hypothesis, and research from there. Sometimes people are shocked by what they find -- the earth being flat was obvious and intuitive at one point. There is also the added benefit of accumulating studies that state the obvious, because there is no limit of politicians on both sides of the fence who will refute the most basic facts. Now, when Sen. So-and-so says credit cards shouldn't be regulated; they don't hurt consumers -- this study can be cited.

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