The Meek Won't Inherit Much: Niceness Correlates With Financial Hardship - Study

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A new study published in the October issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reveals that nice people have higher chances of experiencing monetary hardships because they don't place an adequate amount of importance on their financial well being.

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Researchers came to their conclusion after analyzing a slew of data collected from more than 3 million participants via two online panels, a 2013 UK survey, bank account data retrieved from a 2014 UK study and publicly available geographic data focusing on financial matters. The study was published on October 11.

Officials from the Columbia Business School and the University College London School of Management used the data to learn about participants' savings, debt, negotiation styles, levels of agreeableness and general opinions of money.

"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," Sandra Matz, the study's lead author, said in a statement to the American Psychological Association.

"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."

Researchers ultimately determined that individuals identified as having a "nice and warm" personalities have a greater risk of money-related issues because they simply have careless financial negotiation styles and place a lower emphasis on money.

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"We found that agreeableness was associated with indicators of financial hardship, including lower savings, higher debt and higher default rates," study co-author Joe Gladstone said. "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."

But being nice won't necessarily leave you strapped for cash. Researchers noted in their findings that one's income level played an important role in whether one faces financial difficulties — which is perhaps an unsurprising conclusion.

"Not every agreeable person is at equal risk of experiencing financial hardship," Gladstone said. "The relationship was much stronger for lower-income individuals, who don't have the financial means to compensate for the detrimental impact of their agreeable personality."

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