Description: Usually, when designing a line of psychological research, we start from the psychology and predict the behavior – makes sense, because it is Psychological theories that we are developing. So, for example, think about what predictions you would make about people’s shopping (buying) behavior based on what you know or can find out about their personality. What would high or low scores on the Big Five personality model (Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism) predict in the way of shopping patterns and purchases? We would likely test this by assessing personality and then asking people what they bought in the last week, month, or year. What sorts of results might you expect? Would you be concerned about the retrospective recall you would be asking your participants to engage in? Might their memory be influenced by their personality? Now, what if we went about that research the other way? What if we took advantage of the fact that many people are making most of their purchases electronically rather than with cash and what if one could access that data (and ask people to complete a personality test)? Would this approach cause you to make any adjustments in the hypotheses you came up with a few moments ago? Give the article linked below a read to see what the researchers using this other research direction found.
Source: Your Spending May Reveal Aspects of Your Personality. Association for Psychological Science.
Date: September 3, 2019
Photo Credit: iStock/Getty Images
So, though not as accurate as Facebook likes, shopping patterns do provide some moderate predictive links to aspects of personality. There was not much reported that was surprising (likely matching personality to shopping predictions). High scores on Openeness to Experience being linked to travel purchases makes sense as does Extroverts doing more dining and drinking out and those high on Agreeableness donating more to charity. The decrease in predictive utility of purchase histories in low SES areas where disposable income is low or non-existent also makes sense. Some findings were somewhat new or unique such as those high in self-control paying lower banking fees and those higher in neuroticism spending less on mortgage payments (because they are less stable and more likely to rent or …. ?). Perhaps the most interesting (concerning?) finding was that spending predicted personality less well than Facebook likes but as well as music preferences and Flickr photos. So perhaps we will soon have a whole new set of algorithms helping companies decide what to market to whom based on predictions about their personalities derived from their purchase patterns and all the ethical issues that go with that.
Questions for Discussion:
- How did purchasing patterns and personality seem to be related in the study?
- Why were some aspects of personality, such as materialism and self-control, better predicted by purchase data than the dimension of the Big Five personality model?
- What are some of the ethical, privacy or consumer protection issues that come to mind in relation to this research approach?
References (Read Further):
Gladstone, J. J., Matz, S. C., & Lemaire, A. (2019). Can Psychological Traits Be Inferred From Spending? Evidence From Transaction Data. Psychological science, 0956797619849435. http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/10076117/3/Gladstone_final%20manuscript.pdf
Bosnjak, M., Galesic, M., & Tuten, T. (2007). Personality determinants of online shopping: Explaining online purchase intentions using a hierarchical approach. Journal of Business Research, 60(6), 597-605. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/e4fa/d4f4720d3ab789015890a7e20796f7f80d8a.pdf
Tsao, W. C., & Chang, H. R. (2010). Exploring the impact of personality traits on online shopping behavior. African Journal of Business Management, 4(9), 1800-1812. http://www.academicjournals.org/app/webroot/article/article1380814476_Tsao%20and%20Chang.pdf
Gohary, A., & Hanzaee, K. H. (2014). Personality traits as predictors of shopping motivations and behaviors: a canonical correlation analysis. Arab Economic and Business Journal, 9(2), 166-174. https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/187525/1/S2214462514000206-main.pdf
Miyazaki, A. D., & Fernandez, A. (2001). Consumer perceptions of privacy and security risks for online shopping. Journal of Consumer affairs, 35(1), 27-44. http://capitolhilltop.org/extra/papers/Langsner_InternetPrivacySecurity.pdf
Cary, C., Wen, H. J., & Mahatanankoon, P. (2003). Data mining: Consumer privacy, ethical policy, and systems development practices. Human Systems Management, 22(4), 157-168.