Personality Traits and Financial Outcomes Personality Traits and Financial Outcomes

By Claire Greene, Oz Shy, and Joanna Stavins

Surveys indicate that about 4.5 percent of US households do not have a bank account, about one-quarter do not own any credit cards, and among credit cardholders, revolving credit card debt (carrying unpaid balances) is common. Using data from the 2021 Survey and Diary of Consumer Payment Choice and the University of Southern California Understanding America Study, this paper looks at whether self-reported personality traits have a significant effect on these financial outcomes when the analysis takes into account consumers’ income, demographics, and financial literacy. Specifically, it studies which if any of the Big Five personality traits—openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism—influence consumers’ decisions to be unbanked, adopt a credit card, or revolve credit card debt.

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