It turns out that one of the most popular cliches—that money can’t buy happiness—may not be true.
People who spent more money on purchases that lined up with their personality traits were happiest, new research from Cambridge University has found. In the study, 625 people took a personality test and had their responses matched anonymously with their bank transaction data over the course of six months, the Telegraph reported.
Nearly 60 spending categories were matched to five personality traits: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. The researchers found that people who spent more money on purchases that matched their personality were happier.
Those who identified with a certain personality type tended to spend more on products that matched with that type, and the extent to which they did so was found to be highly correlated to their happiness. In short, spending in the right way mattered more than total income or spending.
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For instance, someone who scored well for “agreeableness” would spend more on charities and pets, and the more they spent, the more likely they were to be happy. Those who identified strongly with a “neurotic” personality type were likely to spend a lot of money on traffic fines and gambling. Similarly, people considered to be “highly conscientious” spent about $175 more each year on health and fitness than those who had a poor correlation to those personality traits.
The research goes against previous findings that there is not a strong relationship between money and well-being for people earning more than $50,000 to $75,000. The researchers said they think the results could be used to help companies that sell their products online to improve relationships with their customers.