Go to main content
BPS News

How the rich differ in personality from the rest of us

23 November 2018

Rich people are stable, flexible and see themselves as being in control of their lives, while being more focused on themselves than others.

That is the conclusion of a paper published today, Friday 23 November, in the British Journal of Psychology by a team of researchers led by Marius Leckelt from the Universities of Münster and Mainz.

The researchers set out to discover how the rich are different from the general population. They used a survey of130 German millionaires, who had been asked about their socio-economic characteristics and personality.

Findings from this research were compared with findings from a personality survey of a large sample of the general public to provide a control group the millionaires could be compared with.

Clear differences in personality emerged between the group of millionaires and the general public. Some of these were because the millionaires were more likely to be male and older, but even when this was controlled for a number remained.

The millionaires were more emotionally stable, more conscientious, had a high sense of narcissism and saw themselves as being in control of their lives.

Marius Leckelt said:

“Despite the influence of high net-worth people on society, evidence about their personality is scarce.

What research there has been has tended to concentrate on how social or antisocial they are.

We wanted to discover whether they differ from the wider population more generally and, if so, how.”

The researchers also looked at popular stereotypes of the rich to see how they compared with their findings.

They asked a panel of 690 people drawn from the general public to give their view of the personalities of rich people.

When the results were analysed they showed that, while the public tended to overestimate how different the rich were, they did identify much the same points of difference that the researchers had found.

You can view the full journal paper for free on the Wiley online library.


Top of page