I don't know if this applies to me -- if I have money, I spend it. But a new study says that people save more money when their goals fit their personality traits.
People whose savings goals align well with their dominant personality traits are more likely to save money, according to research published by the American Psychological Association, newswise.com reports. But the reason is simple. The study found that it's hard, and here's why: it requires people to overcome the psychological hurdle of making a sacrifice in the present to benefit themselves in the future, says newswise.com.
In October 2022, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Americans save just 2.3% of their income, the lowest in nearly two decades), according to newswise.com.
Many of us want to save more money. Researcher Sandra Matz, PhD, of Columbia University, and her colleagues Joe Gladstone, PhD, of the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Robert Farrokhnia, PhD, of Columbia University, looked into whether aligning people’s savings goals to their personality traits might make it easier for them to save.
Previous research by Matz and Gladstone found that people high in agreeableness -- or "nice people" don’t value money.
“We tried to think of ways we could motivate agreeable people to save more,” the website quotes Matz. “Could we simply highlight how saving money would help them protect their loved ones? This suddenly makes money a means to an end that they care about.”
According to Gladstone, people who received the personality-tailored intervention were 3.57 times more likely to achieve the $100 savings target than those in the control condition, the study revealed.
More generally, researchers "hypothesized that some goals might be a better fit for people with certain personality traits compared with others. For example, a person high in conscientiousness might be more likely to plan for the future and thus more motivated to save for retirement," newswise explains.
Overall, in one test, the researchers found that people whose self-reported savings goals were a good fit for their personality traits had a bigger nest egg, on average, for both wealthy and less wealthy individuals. "Not surprisingly, people who earned more money had more savings, on average, but personality-goal fit explained about 5% of the variance in savings amount across all income levels," according to newswise.
In another part of the study, each participant took a 30-item personality assessment, and then the researchers divided them into five groups. One group received five emails during the month encouraging them to save toward a goal that was a good fit with their most noticeable personality trait.
In yet another segment of the study, participants received emails with a goal mismatched to their personality type, and a third group received randomly selected goal messages. "A fourth group received emails with a generic message encouraging saving but no particular goal, and a fifth group did not receive any emails," the website notes.
For those who opened the emails (not all did), the researchers found that participants who received the personality-matched condition had the highest success rate, with 11.4% reaching the $100 savings goal. For those in the standard message group, only 7.42% had good results, and 7.46% in the random message group, and 7.85% in the personality-mismatched condition also did well.
Only 3.4% of those in the no-email control condition met the savings goal. Participants who were in the email groups but didn’t open their emails had about a 3% success rate.
So check out how you really feel about money to start saving more successfully.