Personality traits predict holiday spending
Keep calm and spend more.
The more emotionally together you are, the more you spend during the holidays, according to a new study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. Indeed, emotionally stable people spend more money on holiday shopping, while those who are more neurotic tend to shell out less.
Furthermore, those who don’t do much advance planning and aren’t that hard-working, as well as those who are curious tend to spend less. Researchers compared the spending habits of 2,133 people over the Christmas season with survey results that measured 5 of their personality traits — openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
“We found that personality traits such as neuroticism, the tendency to be nervous, openness, and consciousness were all associated with spending,” co-author of the study and post doctoral fellow at NorthWestern University, Sara Weston, told Moneyish. “People who were calmer, or more emotionally stable tend to spend more during the holiday season, while people who were more open and low on conscientiousness were more likely to spend less during the holiday season.”
More research is needed to determine exactly why certain personality traits such as emotional stability are related to spending habits during the holiday season, Weston explained. It could be that “calm people spend more because they just have an easier time spending money” or it could be that “spending more on holidays makes you a calmer person,” she says.
And it may go even deeper than that, research shows: “Personality can affect how much money you make to begin with, the kind of job you have, where you live, and typical spending,” she said. “Personality could also affect how many friends you have, which is also related to how many gifts you have to give and how much you spend.”
No matter your personality type, you’re likely to overspend during the holidays. Not only do many U.S. consumers start shopping for the holiday season as early as September and spending an average of $906 on Christmas gifts, according to Statista — they also go into debt to fund these expenses. More than half (57%) of holiday shoppers expected to take on debt to buy gifts for friends and family last year, and one-third (31%) put their holiday spending on a credit card.
There are many reasons for this overspending beyond personality: Some of it may be fueled by stress, as studies show that the holidays increase emotional stress. And some of it is that we feel pressure to spend big too. Forty percent of Americans feel pressured to spend more than they can afford during that time of year, according to a 2014 survey by Harris Poll.
Whatever your personality type or stress-level, there are plenty of ways to ensure you don’t blow your budget this holiday season. Experts suggest making detailed lists ahead of the season, stacking savings online, and using coupon tracking apps to keep expenses low and to stay in your budget.
© 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved