What spending habits say about your personality

Are you more likely to save up money for a new experience like a vacation somewhere exotic, or on products like a flat-screen television?

Your answer to this could offer insights on your personality, according to a new study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology.

The study notes that those who spend money on experiences such as travel, food and classes are more likely to be extroverted and adventurous when compared to those who spend their money on material goods.

Another study even found that those materialistic buyers were less happy, and less liked, than their experiential peers.

The first study, conducted by researchers at San Francisco State University, asked nearly 10,000 people about their personality type (introverted or extroverted) and their spending habits.

The results showed that 60 per cent of experiential spenders were satisfied with their life while only 40 per cent of material spenders said the same. Experiential buyers also proved to have less anxiety in social situations, and got along better with others.

The study’s lead researcher, San Francisco State assistant professor Ryan Howell, noted that experiential buyers are more likely to take risks. “You are taking a bigger risk on a night at a new restaurant or play. You can’t return a trip or a meal the way you can return something from a store,” he told the New York Times.

Similar findings came from a University of Colorado study done in 2010, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. The study found that materialistic buyers were less popular among their peers when compared to experiential buyers.

For the study, participants viewed skits where actors played the role of either a materialistic or an experiential consumer. Participants found the materialistic buyer to be shallow, while they noted the experiential shopper as a charismatic personality they would want to spend time with.

New York Times asked the editor in chief of Lucky, a shopping magazine, about the findings.

“There’s an $1,800 Prada dress I want right now. Do I spend it or take three weekends in Montauk?” she said. “When I think back on my life of things that stand out, I think of my trip to Alaska with my parents, or to Costa Rica with a boyfriend. But the immediate rush of getting that YSL bootie is also pretty great.”

Her words seem to support the idea that materialistic shopping can be like an addiction — and when the initial rush fades you’re left with nothing more than another item cluttering your home.

With an experiential purchase, however, you are buying memories that last a lifetime.

Sources: Journal of Positive Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, New York Times

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/Ruslan Kerimov

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