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The Personality Traits of Self-Made and Inherited Millionaires

Referierte Aufsätze Web of Science

Marius Leckelt, Johannes König, David Richter, Mitja D. Back, Carsten Schröder

In: Humanities and Social Sciences Communications 9 (2022), 1, 12 S.


Very wealthy people influence political and societal processes by wielding their economic power through foundations, lobbying groups, media campaigns, as investors and employers. Because personality shapes goals, attitudes, and behaviour, it is important to understand the personality traits that characterize the rich. We used representative survey data to construct two large samples, one from the general population and one consisting of individuals with at least 1 million euros in individual net wealth, to analyse what personality traits characterize the wealthy and why their traits differ from those of the general population. High wealth was associated with higher Risk tolerance, Emotional Stability, Openness, Extraversion, and Conscientiousness. This “rich” personality profile was more prominent among individuals who had accumulated wealth through their own efforts (“self-mades”) than among individuals who had been born into wealth (“inheritors”). Thus, our evidence is suggestive of a unique configuration of personality traits contributing to self-made millionaires’ economic success.

Johannes König

Research Associate in the German Socio-Economic Panel study Department

Carsten Schröder

Board of Directors SOEP and Division Head Applied Panel Analysis in the German Socio-Economic Panel study Department