Although it is never easy or surely fair to separate people into two groups, when we talk about personal finances we tend to identify someone as being mainly a saver or having some control of their expenses and other people as wasteful or who do not maintain a Comprehensive overview of your accounts , regardless of whether they have a lot or a little money. And, at least psychologists, have done to strengthen these two profiles in various studies.
Although many people believe that habits in personal finance come from parents or from examples seen throughout life, current research is showing that our habits are not based only on conditioning and education. Some of the latest research suggests that our brain reactions can also influence our spending habits.
A 2008 investigation published in the Journal of Consumer Research attempted to map out how we feel about spending money by focusing on the hypothesis of finding two profiles and their intermediate points on a scale.
Your brain is partly to blame for saving or spending more
From it came the Tightwad-Spendthrift scale (literally translated, from ‘tight bundles’ and ‘savings spender’, which could be said to be a saver-wasteful ). It is designed to assess how far people find the prospect of spending money painful or distressing.
Tightwads / savers tend to experience burdened paying and spending more than they ideally would like to pay, while spendthrifts / spenders tend to experience spending more than they ideally would like to spend almost unconsciously and without noticing distress over it.
To carry out the experiment, the brains of the participants were scanned while they simulated making purchase decisions . The researchers looked at activity in an area of the brain called the insula or insular cortex, which is stimulated when something unpleasant is experienced. The more stimulation there is to the insula, the less likely it is that someone will keep doing what they were doing. When it comes to money, stimulation of the insula slows down spending.
Savers perceive pleasure when they know that an expense has been avoided
On the other hand, the act of saving – either by having cash in a bank or by experiencing significant savings in a product or service when buying it – produces an intense pleasure for savers. Because yes, getting a good bargain makes anyone feel good, but savers feel that pleasure even more , and the researchers discovered that it is not so much because of the fact of saving, but because they do not have to spend as much.
The researchers concluded that people who have more insula activity in the brain are more likely to be thrifty, and those who have less tend to be spenders.
The children’s and candy experiment
In an earlier experiment in the 1960s with children, well known and commonly called the marshmallow experiment , Stanford researchers presented children in a nursery with a tray of treats containing marshmallows, pretzels, and sweet cookies. The researchers told the children to select one treat, and if they ate it immediately, they would not get any more , but if they waited just a few minutes, they would get another.
After each child made their own decision, the researchers continued to interview the children cyclically until they were adults and learned that those who were able to delay eating the treat were much more thrifty and had been more successful overall. life.
Psychosocial researchers have linked these types of behaviors to individuals who have a hard time visualizing a future benefit greater than what is also offered with personal finances. Recognizing what type we are, however, can help us understand ourselves better, since although the saving position may seem safer, this profile can also fall into depriving itself of many things.