Five personality traits of self-made millionaires - Do you have them?

Within the sample of millionaires, those whose personality traits correspond most closely to the typical profile have the highest wealth.

 Millionaire (photo credit: Nick Youngson)
(photo credit: Nick Youngson)

Who wants to be a millionaire? Well, it seems that your personality traits might help.

According to a study by researchers from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) and the University of Münster, millionaires are more risk-tolerant, emotionally stable, open, extroverted and conscientious than everyone else

The study was published in the journal Humanities and Social Sciences Communications.

"This is the first study to describe the personality of millionaires using robust data. Since the rich wield particular influence over societal decision-making processes, and since personality has a determining influence on the way people think and behave, the investigation of millionaires’ personality traits is of great social relevance,” said Mitja Back, Professor of Psychological Diagnostics and Personality Psychology at Münster.

The data used by the researchers for the analysis of personality traits come from the SOEP, a representative random sample of the German population. In 2019, a subsample of more than 2,000 high-wealth individuals was added to the SOEP. The SOEP now surveys more than 1,100 millionaires whose net worth averages around 4 million euros.

Luxury Watches (credit: INGIMAGE)Luxury Watches (credit: INGIMAGE)

“This means that the very wealthy are now overrepresented in the SOEP, making it possible to analyze this very small population in a meaningful way,” explains SOEP researcher Carsten Schröder, who initiated the top-wealth subsample.

The tests measured what the study’s authors referred to as the “Big Five” personality traits: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness. 

Within the sample of millionaires, those whose personality traits correspond most closely to the typical profile have the highest wealth. In the rest of the population, a weaker form of this personality profile can be found in individuals who have worked their way up through their own efforts.

Although they are not millionaires yet, they see themselves as having earned their money on their own and, therefore, as self-made. Johannes Konig, the research associate at SOEP and lead author of the study, explains, “Taken together, the results suggest that personality is a relevant factor in wealth accumulation.”

"Our study has limits", the study authors note. The data collected is only from one country, Germany.  While Germany is a highly developed nation with wide dispersion in wealth, it may not necessarily represent all high-wealth countries. In the US, for example, the wealth dispersion is even more unequal.