advertisement
Updated 12 October 2018

It just doesn't pay to be nice – study finds nice people at increased risk of bankruptcy

Researchers have analysed data from more than 3 million people and found that those who were nice were at increased risk for bankruptcy and other financial problems.

0

When it comes to money, nice people really are more likely to finish last, a new study suggests.

Researchers analysed data from more than three million people and found that those who were nice were at increased risk for bankruptcy and other financial problems.

Why?

They just don't value money as much as other people do, according to the study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

'Nice guys finish last'

"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 lead author Sandra Matz, an assistant professor of management at Columbia Business School in New York City.

Other studies have linked agreeableness with lower income and credit scores, she said.

"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," Matz said in a journal news release.

Researchers tied agreeableness to indicators of financial hardship, including lower savings, higher debt and higher default rates.

Study co-author Joe Gladstone is an assistant professor of management at University College London. "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," he said.

Potential factor underlying financial hardship

But everyone who's agreeable isn't at equal risk of financial hardship. The association was much stronger for people who make less money.

"Being kind and trusting has financial costs, especially for those who do not have the means to compensate for their personalities," Matz said.

The study only found an association rather than a cause-and-effect link. Yet surprisingly, even when agreeableness was measured in childhood, it was still linked to more financial hardship later in life.

Also surprising was a comparison of publicly available personality and financial information from two areas in the United Kingdom with similar per-capita income levels.

The city with higher scores on agreeableness had a 50% higher bankruptcy rate, the study found.

"Our results help us to understand one potential factor underlying financial hardship, which can have serious implications for people's well-being," Matz said.

Image credit: iStock

 
NEXT ON HEALTH24X
advertisement

Live healthier

Gut health »

Can't lose weight? Blame it on your gut

Our nutrition experts weigh in on why gut health is such an important factor in weight loss, on World Obesity Day.

Sleep better »

Yes, there is such a thing as too much sleep

A new study confirms that too little sleep can impair your brain, but interestingly, too much sleep is also a problem.