Good people vs. bad people: who makes the most money?

From the old Ebenezer Scrooge of Charles Dickens to the rough Séraphin Poudrier of Upper countryfrom the greedy Harpagon of Molière to the cruel Monsieur Burns of simpsons, the rich characters who are part of popular culture are rarely the most friendly. If stories of all kinds return us to this idea that wealth and evil are interrelated, to what extent is this true outside of fiction? Should we choose between money and kindness?

Reconciliation and personal finance

Before examining the financial situation of the Gentiles, it is still necessary to determine what kindness is. It is often synonymous with pleasant character. According to the theory of Big Five ”, Which refers to a person’s personality in five main individual factors, a person with a high level of responsiveness is generally warm, attentive and caring. But does such a favorable attitude in society coincide with favorable financial behavior?

Some recent studies have found that so-called “pleasant” people are more likely to have financial problems, including more debt, more defaults, lower credit scores and fewer savings. . Why? Two researchers – fromColumbia University in New York and University College London want to understand which elements of pleasant personality lead to these difficulties.

Will people be affected by their transactions because of their cooperative negotiation style, leading them to make fewer requests and more concessions?

Do they place less subjective value on material goods and money?

The research

To find answers to these questions, the researchers combined and analyzed data from more than three million participants in Britain and America.

They did not notice a correlation between the trading style of the pleasant people and their financial results. In fact, although it appears that being agreeable had a large impact on their method of negotiation, the cooperative style of negotiation seemed to have no effect on the participants ’personal finances. If good people have more financial problems, it is not because they are bad negotiators or they are more likely to be exploited by others.

In contrast, being agreeable had a clear direct impact on the subjective value for money of the participants. The low importance they place on it has a huge direct impact on their savings. Researchers have noticed that pleasant people are less concerned about money and thus are more likely to mismanage it.

We also wanted to examine the effects of moderation, since kindness doesn’t seem to affect everyone in the same way. And according to the results, good people with high enough incomes will not suffer from their mismanagement of money, because they have more resources and a better financial safety net to get paid.

The two researchers also measured the relationship over time between friendliness and finance. So they relied on data from a longitudinal study (the British Cohort Study) in which, first, participants ’consensus was assessed in 1986, when they were 16 or 17 years old. This measure was then used to predict their financial results in 2012, when they would be 42 years old. Again, the link between pleasure and financial difficulties has been maintained, ever since the most favorable adolescent participants inevitably experienced greater financial hardship after 25 years.

If the relationship between reconciliation and financial problems seems clear on an individual level, researchers want to know if the impact can be felt in a locality. Here again, the regions where the population is considered the most conducive and where the average income is the lowest are also those where the bankruptcy rate is the highest. Thus, the geographical areas with higher pleasantness scores are those where the bankruptcy rate is 50% higher.

The Disadvantaged Gentiles

The work of the researchers therefore shows that there is a real relationship between pleasure (or kindness) and financial difficulties. These difficulties can be seen in credit ratings, savings, debt and insolvency rates, mainly because, for so-called “pleasant” individuals, money will not be a priority. In all fields of study, harmony is the only personality trait Big Five »Systematically associated with financial difficulties.

money or people

With these results, the researchers note that while the combination of complacency and low income leads to the worst financial results, it is also possible that it works the opposite. In fact, financial difficulties combined with low socioeconomic status can increase a person’s level of well -being. People from low socioeconomic categories tend to prioritize community over money. Social relationships (not money) are their main support when faced with a difficult situation. Being compliant therefore leads to less focus on money, but less focus on money can also lead to turning to others and becoming more pleasant.

Of course, a phenomenon as complex and multifaceted as financial difficulties can only be determined by a few predictors of personality, but the fact remains that being pleasant seems to have a financial cost. It remains to be seen if we are the good or bad characters of the story …

Primary sources: MATZ, Sandra C., Ph.D., Columbia Business School and Joe J. GLADSTONE, Ph.D., University College London, School of Management. “Nice Guys Last Ended: When and Why Consent to Economic Poverty”, Journal of Personality and Social PsychologyOctober 11, 2018.

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