Among low-income groups, extraverts spend more than introverts on luxury goods
Many of us like to shop, but new research shows that personality type is associated with purchase patterns of luxury goods.
Research by Landis and Gladstone (2017) published in the journal Psychological Science explored the relationship between personality, income, and shopping patterns. They found that among low-income households, extraverts were more likely than introverts to spend money in ways that promote status. That means spending money you do not have to create the perception of living in a higher socioeconomic group.
In this study, examples of “high status” items include golf, art, electronics, clothes, and foreign airline travel. This effect, known as “compensatory consumption,” reveals how differences in personality contribute to spending habits in the context of low income. It appears that extraverts and introverts living in low income conditions adapt in different ways. Extraverts were more concerned with buying items and services that signal higher status. For example, taking friends out to a Michelin three star restaurant or buying a Rolex when you can only afford a Rolecks.
The study included 718 individuals from the United Kingdom who agreed to provide bank transaction information to the researchers over a 12 month period. Participants also completed a questionnaire that measures the “big-five” factors of personality: Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Openness, and Extraversion.
Patterns of spending were examined over the course of the study within the context of relevant variables including age, income, and debt levels. Extraverts spent more money on high-status items even after statistically controlling for factors like gender and employment status. The pool of financial resources available for this group is small compared to high income groups, yet extraverts and introverts were allocating this money in contrasting ways. Extraverts in this category were less likely patronize pawnbrokers, discount stores, and purveyors of other “low status” merchandise.
Landis, B. & Gladstone, J.J. (2017). Personality, income, and compensatory consumption: Low-income extraverts spend more on status. Psychological Science, August,1-3.
Kevin Bennett, Ph.D., is a social-personality psychologist, Assistant Teaching Professor, and Director of the Personality and Human Performance Lab (PHPL) at The Pennsylvania State University, Beaver Campus.