It’s true that the 1% think and act differently than average people.
But according to a 2015 study led by financial psychologist Bradley Klontz, ultra-wealthy Americans are so distinct that they even “exhibit significant psychological differences” from affluent people — described in the study as those with a higher net worth and income than the average population, but less than the 1%.
From a survey of 1,096 earners, Klontz and his coauthors found that the super rich — those with an annual income of $370,000 or more and/or a net worth of at least $2.5 million — share several psychological characteristics and behaviors that separate them from the “mass affluent.”
The study’s conclusions were drawn from self-reports, so the findings may reflect how the super rich see themselves rather than how they are seen by others. And those who are not interested in participating in a psychological survey may differ from those who did.
But according to the study, the super rich generally maintain a high level of responsibility and control over their lives, derive motivation from their financial success, and refuse the belief that money begets corruption.
Below are seven of the most significant psychological differences between the 1% and the affluent population.
1. They are less likely to believe in ‘money avoidance’
“[Wealthy people] are less likely to believe that money is a corrupting influence, that rich people are greedy or get rich by taking advantage of others, that there is virtue in living with less money, or that they do not deserve money,” the report states.
2. They have a higher ‘internal locus of control’
“[The wealthy] are less likely to feel helpless in dealing with life’s challenges, take more responsibility for the outcomes in their lives, have stronger beliefs in their abilities to solve problems and achieve goals, and believe they have more control over the things that happen to them,” according to the report.
3. They tend to be motivated by money and passion
“The wealthy individuals were significantly more likely than the mass affluent to report attributing their financial success to both a fundamental drive to increase their wealth and a commitment to follow their passions,” according to the report.
4. They are more likely to connect self-worth and net worth
“As such, [the wealthy] were more likely to believe that self-worth and net worth are intertwined, that success is defined by how much money one earns, that money follows good works, and money helps give life meaning.”
5. They are less likely to sabotage their financial success
“As a result, the wealthy are less likely … to overspend or gamble compulsively, less likely to financially enable others, less likely to hoard possessions, and less likely to have trouble sticking to a budget.”
6. They have confidence in their investing abilities
“Specifically, they reported significantly higher levels of confidence in their investing acumen,” according to the report. Still, “they were significantly more likely to report making one or more major investing mistakes.”
7. They are more vigilant about their money
“As such, they scored higher on the belief that money should be saved and not spent, are more likely to be anxious about not having enough money, and believe it is impolite to talk about money.”
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