Raise or bonus? Most of us know the right answer

April 21, 2011 at 7:25 AM ET

When it comes to finances, most Americans apparently know better than to reach for the "shiny object."

Paul Sakuma / AP /

Asked if an immediate one-time bonus would be preferable to a smaller raise in salary, 87 percent of Americans said they would forgo the bonus and take the smaller raise that would eventually end up being more, according to a new poll conducted by Harris Interactive.

The poll, which was sponsored by life insurer Northwestern Mutual, also found that a majority of adults are willing to pay a premium price for quality products that last. Only 18 percent of consumers said they prefer pending less for products that are lower quality and need to be replaced sooner.

And when it comes to financial risk, 83 percent of people said they would take a smaller, guaranteed reward instead of an investment that offers a higher yield with greater risk, the poll found.