The most frequently observed behaviors seen among the participants were:
• Paralysis. Regardless of the primary emotion, the most common resulting behavior was ubiquitous across participants: to do nothing. While some were paralyzed with fear and uncertainty, others were prevented from taking action by confusion or not knowing whom to trust.Sources: Financial Engines Press Release (May 23, 2011); The Baltimore Sun "Fear, distrust prevent older boomers from making retirement decisions" (May 23, 2011)
• Avoidance. When faced with fear of unpleasant or difficult news, some participants said that they preferred not to know how bad the situation was rather than face the facts. Others said that they wanted to avoid spending their 401(k) assets altogether to give them something to fall back on if something unexpected came up.
• Misplaced Trust. Given their distrust of the financial services and insurance industries and lack of confidence in their own financial knowledge, participants often turned to a friend or family member—qualified or not—for retirement advice.
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• Magical Thinking. Many participants resorted to magical thinking, telling themselves that everything would work out in the end, or that they could continue working indefinitely without having to adjust their standard of living.