University of Edinburgh

March 2020

Standard Life Foundation commissioned the University of Edinburgh Business School to conduct a rapid evidence review to understand the determinants of people’s spending behaviour and how it impacts their financial wellbeing.

Key findings included:

  • There appears to be a link between spending and overall financial wellbeing, with lower spending associated with higher financial wellbeing.
  • It is possible to identify a number of determinants, particularly personality traits such as conscientiousness, to spending behaviour.
  • The effects of such determinants on spending will be modified by the specific situation (for example, who else is present).
  • Evidence on how these determinants are distributed across the population is mixed, but greater spending restraint may be more common in men and older people.
  • Poorer control over spending is linked to materialism and status-seeking, along with impulsivity and low self-control.

Download the report