The Fatal (Fiscal) Attraction Of Spendthrifts and Tightwads in Marriage
I don’t tend to post about personal finances or relationships, but this research paper is rather interesting. Apparently, when it comes to marriage opposites may attract based on spending habits. Unfortunately, this opposite attraction impoverishes marital well-being.
Abstract (Rick, Small, & Finkle Via SSRN)
Although much research finds that “birds of a feather flock together,” surveys of married adults suggest that opposites attract when it comes to emotional reactions toward spending. 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, spendthrift/tightwad differences within a marriage predict conflict over finances, which in turn predict diminished marital well-being. These findings underscore the importance of studying the relationships between money, consumption, and happiness at an interpersonal level.
Research Paper Excerpts (Rick, Small, & Finkle Via SSRN)
Yet, despite the overwhelming evidence suggestive of positive assortment, similarity may not be a universal principle of mate selection. Rather, one important moderator is whether individuals like versus dislike a trait in themselves. Klohnen and Mendelsohn (1998) argue that complementarity is likely to be observed for characteristics we deplore in ourselves. Though people may be attracted to others who possess characteristics similar to those they value in themselves (Freud 1914/1957), for “disliked aspects of the self,” dissimilarity should be most appealing (Klohnen and Mendelsohn 1998, p. 269; cf. Heider 1958, p. 186). Indeed, Klohnen
and Mendelsohn (1998, p. 273) found that similarity to one’s partner on a given dimension was positively related to the individual’s satisfaction with his or her own location on that dimension. This moderation suggests that people who are unhappy with their feelings toward spending money should be attracted to people who have dissimilar feelings toward spending money.