Spending habits reveal personality

Personality traits can be inferred from spending habits, with predictions more accurate for narrower traits, such as materialism and self-control.

Spending habits reveal personality
spending habits and personality

Main titles

  • Personality traits such as self-control can be inferred from spending habits.

“Now that most people spend their money electronically – with billions of payment cards in circulation worldwide – we can study these spending patterns at scale like never before. Our findings demonstrate for the first time that it is possible to predict people’s personality from their spending.”- Joe Gladstone of University College London.

Spending habits

  • A personality survey measured traits such as materialism, self-control, and the "OCEAN"  traits (openess to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.)
  • Machine learning techniques were used to analyze if relative spending across various categories such as retail shops and coffee shops, was predictive of specific traits.

Predictions were more accurate for the narrower traits, materialism and self-control, than for the broader OCEAN traits.

  • People more open to experience were more likely to spend more on flights.
  • Extraverted people made more dining purchases.
  • People scoring higher in agreeableness made more donations to charity.
  • People scoring higher in conscientiousness put more money into savings.
  • More materialistic people spent more money on jewelry and less money on donations.
  • People reporting higher self-control spent less on bank charges.
  • People scoring higher in neuroticism spent less on mortgage payments.

Study: UCL and Columbia University