This is topic Life's Extremes: Tightwads vs. Spendthrifts in forum General Comments at The Ornery American Forum.

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Posted by philnotfil (Member # 1881) on :

To get a sense of what happens in our brains when we consider dipping into the bank account, Loewenstein and colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI. This brain scanning technique monitors blood flow to areas in the brain activated when performing a task.

When study subjects looked at a desirable item, such as chocolate candies, their brains produced a starkly different response than when viewing the item's price tag. [10 Things You Didn't Know About the Brain]

"We would first show [the study subject] the product, and if they liked the product, the reward centers of the brain would light up," said Loewenstein. "Then we'd show them the price and the pain and disgust regions activated."

The key reward center the researchers saw light up was the nucleus accumbens, which plays a key role in pleasurable acts from having sex to hearing music. The specific pain-and-disgust region involved was the insula, which activates upon smelling foul odors or experiencing social exclusion, among other situations.

The findings suggest that that the emotional pain or anxiety of actually having to pay for an item works to keep our pleasure seeking in check.

In some people, the researchers think, this mental anguish is so strong that it overrides rational deliberation; these people are tightwads, and they don't buy something even when they know they should.

For a spendthrift, the pain of throwing money around does not register in the brain like it does for other people.

I thought the section on credit cards was particularly interesting:
Cash versus credit card spending habits have opened a further window into the psychological workings of tightwads and spendthrifts, said Scott Rick, a professor of marketing at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and a co-author on research papers with Loewenstein.

Tightwads find it very difficult to part with cash, incurring a big spending gap with their less tight-fisted counterparts, especially on unnecessary "vice" products. But when using credit cards, this gap disappears.

"Several papers propose, as well as ours, that it is less painful using credit cards," Rick told LiveScience. "Not giving up anything tangible kind of helped cure the tightwads of their affliction." For spendthrifts, the medium of purchasing power didn't really matter, Rick added, "because cash feels like credit to them."

Posted by ken_in_sc (Member # 6462) on :
My ex thought you should buy what ever you wanted--she said 'needed'--and then paid bills with what you had left. I had the opposite point of view. An obvious conflict.
Posted by Wayward Son (Member # 210) on :
I guess that's why she's your "ex." [Wink]

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