Tightwads and Spendthrifts

Publication Date:
Jan 2006
Project Programs:
Behavioral Economics

Consumers often behave differently than they would ideally like to behave. We propose that an anticipatory pain of paying drives “tightwads” to spend less than they would ideally like to spend. “Spendthrifts,” by contrast, experience too little pain of paying and typically spend more than they would ideally like to spend. This article introduces and validates the “Spendthrift-Tightwad” scale, a measure of individual differences in the pain of paying. Spending differences between tightwads and spendthrifts are greatest in situations that amplify the pain of paying and smallest in situations that diminish the pain of paying.


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


The Russell Sage Foundation offers grants and positions in our Visiting Scholars program for research.


Join our mailing list for email updates.