Tis the Season

Posted on December 4, 2018


Research released a couple of months ago has shown that well-adjusted people spend more on holiday shopping than non well-adjusted people. This research was funded by the group Citizens for More Liberal Use of Credit Cards.

Life in the Boomer Lane was just pulling your leg.  Maybe. The first sentence of the first paragraph was actually true. But the study, “Who are the Scrooges? Personality Predictors of Holiday Spending,” actually appears in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. LBL doesn’t know, however, who actually funded the research, but she suspects it might be another version of the same people who found that buying a new car every year made people happier, more well-adjusted, and taller.

But for now, it’s back to the research.  According to the University of London study, “Aggregating more than 2 million individual transactions from 2,133 participants’ bank accounts, the researchers compared the relationship between the Big 5 personality traits (OCEAN – openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism) and spending over the Christmas season.

Let us stop for a moment here and digest this paragraph. The real meaning here is that researchers were going into the bank accounts of people and looking at what they were buying.  Who were these participants who allowed this? And why weren’t they concerned that whatever they had bought would become public knowledge?  Every item of clothing, every child’s toy, every electronic device, every Area 51 Alien Inflatable Love Doll, would be up for grabs, (although hopefully not in a literal sense).

While the writer of this blog remains concerned and slightly distracted that people would allow such an intrusion into their private purchasing habits, she will force herself to attend to the business at hand: revealing the results of the study.

LBL will now bypass a lot of psycho-babble and get right down to it: 

The study showed people who are more emotionally stable spend more over the holidays while those high in neuroticism spend less over the same time period.

Let’s make that even stronger by adding:

In addition, those with more artistic interests and more active imaginations, those higher in openness, spend more during the holiday season while those low in openness spend less.

And, for those of you who haven’t yet pulled out your VISA card and planned all the online shopping sites you would visit as soon as you finished reading this post, we will add one last item:

The study also revealed those who are more conscientiousness spend more, and those who are less conscientious spend less.

Need LBL continue?  Are you now itching to exercise your God-given right to whatever Amendment deals with the right to spend? Do you want to prove to the world that you are as well-adjusted, as responsible, as creative, and as adorable (in LBL’s case) as you think you are?

“But wait!”  some of you might be yelling now at your laptop screens. “What about people who have limited funds or are saving their money for things like houses or cars or plastic surgery?  What about people who have no computers at home and have no access to malls? What about people who are dealing with health issues and/or are hospitalized? There would seem to be any number of reasons why a certain percentage of well-adjusted folks aren’t piling up huge holiday purchases. Can’t these people somehow get a break from the researchers?

They did. Sort of. The researchers mentioned in passing that personality health is simply one small part of consumer behavior. Others include income, family size, and on and on.  If you are personally concerned that you may not have a valid excuse for not spending as much as you could, LBL is offering a valuable service. Send her your excuses and she will determine if they are valid.  You can either allow yourself to be racked with guilt, or you can get out there with all the rest of American humanity and start flinging that cash around.