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Research finds savvy savers are less likely to become impulsive spenders

Media release

People who have greater self-control and stronger saving habits are more likely to save money and not make impulsive decisions, research led by Curtin University has found.

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The research, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics, interviewed 594 participants from the United States of America and examined the psychological influences, such as saving intention, buying impulsiveness, saving habits and saving behaviour, on someone’s ability to save money.

Senior author Associate Professor Barbara Mullan, from the School of Psychology at Curtin University, said evidence suggested strong saving behaviour can have positive effects on family stability and well-being, as well as improved mental and physical health.

“Our research examined people’s behaviour by comparing reflective systems, such as conscious deliberation and goals, with impulsive systems, such as automatic tendencies to purchase something without much thought,” Associate Professor Mullan said.

“We found that individuals who have greater self-control, saving habits, and stronger intentions to save money were less likely to make impulsive decisions, suggesting that people with low saving habits were particularly vulnerable to becoming impulsive spenders.”

Associate Professor Mullan explained the findings highlighted the direct relationship between our behaviour and the ways we save and spend money.

“Our research shows it is important to understand and examine the causes of saving behaviour in order to promote this positive behaviour,” Associate Professor Mullan said.

“Our findings indicate the complexity of saving behaviour and suggest that using strategies that target reflective and impulsive systems are needed to change an individual’s behaviour. For example, if a person is seeking to save more money and put a stop to impulsive purchases or decisions, they would need to set goals and targets, develop plans for savings, and reward one’s self with non-spending rewards when successful.”

The research was co-authored by researchers from Curtin University, Griffith University, Central Queensland University and University of Essex in the UK.

The research titled, ‘Reflective and impulsive processes underlying saving behaviour and the additional roles of self-control and habit,’ can be found online here.