Daily Cup of Wellness

Marco Verch |

Marco Verch |

When it comes to keeping your finances safe, it pays to be a little more cutthroat. According to a new study from Columbia Business School and University College London School of Management, kinder individuals are more prone to both suffering financially and even declaring bankruptcy than their peers.

“We were interested in understanding whether having a nice and warm personality — what academics in personality research describe as agreeableness — was related to negative financial outcomes,” said Sandra Matz, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of business management at Columbia. “Previous research suggested that agreeableness was associated with lower credit scores and income. We wanted to see if that association held true for other financial indicators and, if so, better understand why nice guys seem to finish last.”

The study used data about more than 3 million individuals’ monetary habits including their savings, debt, negotiation styles, level of agreeableness and overall view of money in an effort to determine whether agreeable individuals were at greater risk of financial difficulties because they had lax negotiation styles and saw money as a lower priority in their lives.

“We found that agreeableness was associated with indicators of financial hardship, including lower savings, higher debt and higher default rates,” said Joe Gladstone, the study’s co-author and a lecturer at University London College. “This relationship appears to be driven by the fact that agreeable people simply care less about money and therefore are at higher risk of money mismanagement.”

“Our results help us to understand one potential factor underlying financial hardship, which can have serious implications for people’s well-being,” said Matz. “Being kind and trusting has financial costs, especially for those who do not have the means to compensate for their personalities.”

In short, being generous is a wonderful thing, but be careful to ensure your generosity does not exceed your means.

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