Your personality type influences how you shop

Leah Prinzivalli
You’re more likely to buy things you can’t afford if you’re an extrovert. (Photo: Stocksy)
You’re more likely to buy things you can’t afford if you’re an extrovert. (Photo: Stocksy)

Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert may not just affect what you choose to do on Friday night. It can also influence your shopping habits when you hit the stores on Saturday.

An August 2017 study published in the journal Psychological Science examined the role that personality differences play in shopping patterns. Looking specifically at low-income households, researchers Blaine Landis and Joe G. Gladstone theorized that extroverts would spend more money to appear high status. In the fashion world, that translates to spending money you don’t necessarily have in order to look fancier than you really are.

In the study, 718 U.K.-based participants agreed to give the researchers access to their bank transactions. The study subjects also took a personality test that measured five “core” traits: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Over 12 months, their spending patterns were studied and then analyzed alongside factors such as age, employment status, income, and debt levels.

Results showed that extroverts were more likely to spend their money on items deemed “high status,” such as foreign air travel, electronics, golf, and art, than their introverted peers. Meanwhile, they dropped less cash in “low status” categories like pawnbrokers and discount stores.

Even when controlling for factors such as sex and employment status, the extroverts paid more to shop for high-status items. Both introverted and extroverted low-income study participants “had the same financial resources and/or budget available to them, but our data show that they spent this money in very different ways,” Landis told EurekAlert.

“Our findings suggest that extroverts compensate for having low income by spending more on items and experiences that reflect higher status,” said Landis. “In other words, individuals’ spending patterns may reflect personality differences in how they respond to having low income.”

This phenomenon is called “compensatory consumption.” So the next time you buy an outfit to look good on Instagram or take a friend out to a pricey dinner you can’t afford, at least you’ll have a name for it.

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