The researchers drew on information from datasets including two online surveys quizzing almost 4,000 participants on their financial situation and attitude towards money; a nationally representative survey on similar topics involving over 4,000 individuals; bank account data on around 500 people; a study on agreeableness involving almost 5,000 volunteers; and geographically aggregated insolvency and personality measures.
“Across all these different methodologies we find that agreeableness is associated with various indicators of financial hardship including lower savings, higher debt and higher default rates,” said Gladstone.
Agreeable people seemed to simply care less about money, and therefore did not manage their money wisely, the research suggested. At the same time, not every agreeable person had an equal risk of falling victim to financial hardship, said Gladstone.
“The relationship is much stronger for low-income individuals who don’t seem to have the financial means to compensate for their agreeableness personality,” he said.