Fatal (Fiscal) Attraction: Spendthrifts and Tightwads in Marriage
University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business
Deborah A. Small
University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department; Carnegie Mellon University
Northwestern University - Department of Psychology
January 22, 2010
Journal of Marketing Research
Although much research finds that “birds of a feather flock together,” the present research suggests that opposites tend to attract when it comes to certain spending tendencies. That is, “tightwads,” who generally spend less than they would ideally like to spend, and “spendthrifts,” who generally spend more than they would ideally like to spend, tend to marry each other, consistent with the notion that people are attracted to mates who possess characteristics dissimilar to those they deplore in themselves (Klohnen and Mendelsohn 1998). In spite of this complementary attraction, tightwad/spendthrift differences within a marriage predict conflict over finances, which in turn predict diminished marital well-being. These relationships persist when controlling for important financial outcomes (household-level savings and credit card debt). These findings underscore the importance of studying the relationships between money, consumption, and happiness at an interpersonal level.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 37
Keywords: spending, money, tightwad, spendthrift, marriage, attraction, marital satisfaction, marketing, consumer behavior, individual differences
JEL Classification: M31, C91
Date posted: February 7, 2009 ; Last revised: April 11, 2012
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