Extrovert people on low incomes buy more luxury goods than their introvert peers to compensate for the experience of low financial status, new research has found. The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, used real life spending data from bank accounts in Britain to investigate the spending habits of richer and poorer people with different personality types.
People living on a low income often feel low status in society and spend a higher percentage of their money on goods and services that are perceived to have a high status.
“We’ve shown that personality looks to be an important factor in how people respond to living with limited resources,” explained study co-author Joe Gladstone from University College London. “We hope this new association will help us better understand which people may be likely to engage in behaviour that perpetuates the conditions of financial hardship,” Gladstone said.
Previous research had found that people who are sociable and outgoing care more about their social status than others. The new research showed that when extrovert people have a lower income, they spend proportionately more on status goods than introverts on the same income.
The study was conducted in collaboration with a UK-based multinational bank. Customers were asked whether they would complete a standard personality questionnaire, and to consent to their responses being matched anonymously for research purposes with their bank transaction data. The study analysed thousands of transactions from 718 customers over 12 months.
“It’s clear from our study that an extrovert personality is a driver for low-income individuals purchasing more luxury goods, and this is most likely to compensate for a perceived low social status that isn’t as keenly felt by introverts,” study co-author Blaine Landis from University College London said. “We saw very little difference in the spending habits of introverts and extroverts with high incomes,” Landis added.