Fatal (Fiscal) Attraction: Spendthrifts and Tightwads in Marriage

Journal of Marketing Research

37 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2009 Last revised: 11 Apr 2012

Scott Rick

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Deborah A. Small

University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department; Carnegie Mellon University

Eli Finkel

Northwestern University - Department of Psychology

Date Written: January 22, 2010

Abstract

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.

Keywords: spending, money, tightwad, spendthrift, marriage, attraction, marital satisfaction, marketing, consumer behavior, individual differences

JEL Classification: M31, C91

Suggested Citation

Rick, Scott and Small, Deborah A. and Finkel, Eli, Fatal (Fiscal) Attraction: Spendthrifts and Tightwads in Marriage (January 22, 2010). Journal of Marketing Research. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1339240

Scott Rick (Contact Author)

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States

HOME PAGE: http://webuser.bus.umich.edu/srick/

Deborah A. Small

University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department ( email )

700 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6340
United States

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Eli Finkel

Northwestern University - Department of Psychology ( email )

Evanston, IL
United States

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