Health and Wellness

There's a surprising financial upside to feeling insecure, new study finds

Twenty20

Feeling insecure? There's a surprising upside, according to a new study: saving more money.

On Monday, the American Psychological Association published new research in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, revealing that people who experienced self-image threats (or something that challenged the positive perceptions they had of themselves) had a greater intent to save money.

"People who are insecure about their lives and the broader world save as a means of securing their future in anticipation of a possible emergency," said Yael Steinhart, PhD, of Tel-Aviv University and lead author of the study.

In a series of experiments with 2,410 U.S. and Israeli citizens, as well as a nationally representative survey of 1,200 people in the Netherlands, researchers looked at the relationship between such self-image threats and the tendency to save money.

In one experiment, participants played a Sudoku game and researchers randomly told them their score was either in the top, middle or bottom of all players. Then they were asked how much they would save if they had received $1,250. People who were told they did poorly on the Sudoku game saved more than others, the researchers found.

In another, researchers asked participants questions about the number of friends they had and the quality of those friendships. Then they asked participants to imagine they had just received $500, asking them how much of if they would save. The researchers found that people who had more friends and felt better about those friends, tended to save less money.

"Friends may substitute for money as a psychological resource and buffer individuals from anxiety about the future," said Steinhart.

Whether or not you're anxious or insecure by nature, having emergency savings is important for your financial well-being. Experts often recommend having a fund with enough money to cover at least three to six months worth of living expenses, in case of unemployment or other expensive surprises. 

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