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Philip Zimbardo releases financial health and personality study


According to Philip Zimbardo's recent study, a person’s perspective on time can predict his or her financial future. (KATHERINE CARR/The Stanford Daily)
According to Philip Zimbardo’s recent study, a person’s perspective on time can predict his or her financial future.
(KATHERINE CARR/The Stanford Daily)

Philip Zimbardo, professor emeritus of psychology, surveyed 3,000 people in six countries and found that their perspectives on time are indicators of their financial health.

The recently released report, entitled “Time Personality and Financial Health Study,” reflects the results of an online survey of men and women in various age groups. Sponsored by the financial website Magnify Money, the study concluded that those who dwell on the past have the greatest propensity to make wise financial choices.

Past-oriented people are better with money because they “base their decisions and actions on memories rather than current experiences,” according to the study. Those with negative past experiences take fewer risks and thus are more likely to avoid financial ruin.

Present-focused people tend to make impulsive decisions with potentially serious ramifications, and those who focus on the future often sacrifice current enjoyment for future gain. Future-focused individuals also tend to over-insure against risk or make bad investment decisions based on unreliable information.

According to the study, a person’s perspective on time is more important than his or her degree of financial literacy. Those who are not sure about their personality type can take the personality test at Magnify Money.

Zimbardo retired from Stanford in 2003 after 35 years as a faculty member. He has written over 50 books and is best known for the controversial 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment.

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