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Our relationship with money is not always rational. Money is a tool and, like any tool, its effects depend on the use we make of it. But beyond a tool of survival to be in a civilized world, money reflects our personality: our relationship with finance can say much about our relationship with the world and with ourselves, as shown in a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

A group of professors from University College London and the Columbia Business School tried to verify the connection between bank accounts and personality, or in other words, between financial health and general well-being. For this, they analyzed the financial information of almost 3 million people, through reports from banks and a longitudinal study that included 2 thousand individuals over more than 20 years. This information was contrasted with personality tests applied online to quantify how “nice” people relate to money.

Dr. Sandra Matz found an interesting pattern. During the personality tests, the researchers noticed that the people who had the greatest tendency to be described as “sympathetic” were also those who gave less importance to money. In an interview, Matz stated that: People think that what it means to be nice is to be that person who, when he goes out with his friends, says: ‘Do not worry, I’ll pay’. Or if you’re trying to buy a new car, you’ll quickly say yes, because you want to avoid conflict. What we see is that nice people care less about money.

Are good people wave condemned to debt?

But why do nice people care less about money? One of the hypotheses is that sympathetic people have a hard time choosing between their own financial well-being and the maintenance of their social relationships. But paying little attention to money can be a risk factor when it comes to managing personal finances. You always have to prioritize the need of financing your future. Plan for your own good. It is better to build a savings plan then to regret later. Financing your future is important to avoid debt.

If the person is rich, then there is no conflict: he can become a philanthropist and help whoever he thinks best. But the study took into account the financial health of people whose incomes are not that high – or in more precise terms, who cannot compensate for their willingness to help others with money, because they just do not have it.

In other words, the more sympathetic a person is, the greater will be his tendency to try to help others, which will cause him not to save. One way to avoid this and maintain financial health, according to research approaches, is to change ideas in relation to money so as not to see it as a selfish tool, but as a tool to help others. Sometimes, this nature of helping others may lead to more debt. Therefore, always manage your responsibilities accordingly.

Our findings suggest that being kind and trustworthy can have financial costs, especially for those who do not have the financial means to compensate for the predispositions of their personality and the attitudes towards money associated with it.

The researchers warn that this study is limited, and that each particular case can be found with particular variables; However, analyzing the relationship between the psychology of a person and their finances is important to propose behaviors that generate both social and economic well-being in people.


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