Being Mean is Better for Your Finances

Nice people don’t value money? And other reasons why it might literally pay to be disagreeable.

Are Agreeable People Bad with Money?

The verdict is in, and nice people definitely do finish last—at least when it comes to money.

According to a new study, nice people are at greater risk of financial hardship compared to their less agreeable peers. Why? They don’t value money as much.

Authored by Sandra Matz of Columbia Business School, the study set out to answer whether the real reason agreeable people were more likely to experience financial hardship was because of a cooperative negotiation style or because they gave a low value to money.

Bad news: The study found that the agreeableness factor was an indicator of financial hardship, and that nice people typically had more debt, higher default rates, and less savings.

“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,” the study’s co-author, Joe Gladstone, said in a statement.

Borne out of the researchers’ interest in understanding whether having an agreeable personality was related to negative financial outcomes, the study proved that the old saying was true: nice guys (and gals) finish last.

Further illustrating the point, the researchers compared data sets from two areas in the U.K. with similar per-capita income levels. Unsurprisingly, the city with the higher agreeableness score also had a 50 percent higher bankruptcy rate.

The results of the study help in understanding one potential factor that underlies financial hardship.

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

The only way to combat this? Be mean!

Not All Agreeable People Are Equal

Researchers found that not all agreeable people were likely to suffer financially, however.

The main factor? Income.

“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,” Gladstone said.

Ouch.

Agreeableness in Childhood Is a Good Predictor

Were you or do you know an agreeable child? The bad news is that this good-natured personality trait will come back to bite you in the butt.

When researchers measured agreeableness in childhood, they found that it was a predictor of greater financial woes later on in life.


Has your agreeable nature come at the expense of your finances? Share your opinion with us on Twitter at @OppUniversity!