Things that make rich people different

New research revealed that rich people are more conscientious, open to experience, and extraverted than the average population. They are also less agreeable and less neurotic.

These findings were based on two pioneering studies by economists and psychologists regarding the personality traits of the rich.

They used the Big Five personality types as the basis for their studies – conscientiousness, neuroticism, agreeableness, extraversion, and openness to experience.

Dr Rainer Zitelmann, an entrepreneur and historian with doctorates in history and sociology, delved deeper into the issue.

He conducted the first qualitative scientific study on the psychology of the super-rich, namely individuals with a net worth of at least €10 million.

He interviewed 45 super-rich individuals, most of whom were worth between €30 million and €1 billion.

Like the previous studies, Zitelmann also used a Big Five test but with far more questions to gain deeper insight into the personalities of rich people.

His study confirmed the previous findings that the rich are less agreeable and neurotic but more conscientious, open to experience, and extraverted.

His in-depth interviews produced additional findings about the ultra-rich. It includes:

  • Nonconformists – The super-rich are overwhelmingly nonconformists who love to swim against the tide.
  • They blame themselves – The wealthy deal with defeats and setbacks differently than other people. They blame themselves, not others or society at large.
  • Academic performance is unimportant – There is no correlation between performance at school and university and financial success. Implicit learning is more important than academic learning.
  • Luxury – The pursuit of luxury, such as expensive cars and mansions, is a key driving force for some of the super-rich, but there are just as many for whom this motive is quite irrelevant.
  • Freedom and independence – The super-rich are motivated by pursuing freedom and independence. They want to decide for themselves whether to work, what work to do, when to work, where to work, and with whom they work.

Zitelmann’s research further revealed that the wealthy are perceived differently in different parts of the world.

Continental Europeans, especially the French and Germans, harbour a pronounced sense of social envy against the rich.

In contrast, the Japanese, South Koreans, and Vietnamese have a very positive image of the rich, whom they regard as role models rather than the targets of envy.


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