If we want to understand why some people are richer than others, we have to look at their personality. Here are the most important scientific results and a test…

The American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald is often quoted as saying: “The rich are different from you and me.” And Ernest Hemingway is said to have replied: “Yes, they have more money.” In his short story “The Rich Boy” (1926) Fitzgerald had written that the rich not only have more money, but also a different personality.

People have always felt that the rich are somehow “different,” not just in what they own, but in who they are. However, there are not many scientific studies that confirm or refute this thesis.

A team of six economists and psychologists from the universities of Münster, Mainz and Berlin have investigated the question in more detail in a large-scale study. They interviewed 130 rich people and derived a psychological profile from them. In a second step, they compared this profile with the general population.

Of the models used to describe different personality types, the so-called Big Five model has prevailed. A short form of the Big Five test was used in this wealth study. In Big Five tests, five personality traits are distinguished:

Conscientiousness: This refers to how goal-oriented, organized, punctual, persistent, and goal-oriented someone is.

Neuroticism: This is about a person’s psychological stability – how anxious or insecure is he, how neurotic is he?

Agreeableness: How agreeable is someone – or vice versa: How conflict-oriented is a person?

Extraversion: How extraverted is a person, how much is they outwardly focused?

Openness to New Experiences: People differ in how open they are to new experiences.

Comparing the personality traits of the general population with those of the wealthy surveyed by the researchers reveals:

In addition to the Big Five test, the researchers also examined two other personality traits, namely narcissism and locus of control. The result:

Rainer Zitelmann is a real estate investor and author of numerous books, including “The Society and its Rich. Prejudices about an envied minority.

Recently, scientists from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) and the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster presented a study on the personality of wealth millionaires, which was published in the journal Humanities and Social Sciences Communications.

The researchers wanted to know whether millionaires have different personalities than the general population. The scientists compared a sample of the entire population with a sample of 1,125 Germans who have net assets of at least 1 million euros. They also had the respondents take the Big Five test. Only in the case of “tolerability” was there no clear connection. But otherwise the findings of the new study were consistent with previous analyses: the rich are more open to new experiences, more conscientious, less neurotic and more willing to take risks than the average population.

The results also agree with those of my dissertation on the “psychology of the super-rich”. For this study, I interviewed 45 people, but they were significantly wealthier than the 130 in the first survey and the 1125 in the second survey. Most of my interviewees were self-made millionaires, and the “poorest” had wealth between €10 million and €30 million, but most had significantly more, between €30 million and €1 billion. Some billionaires were also among the interviewees.

This study on the psychology of the super-rich also came to the conclusion that the rich are mentally very stable (i.e. not very neurotic). It was also shown that they are particularly open to new experiences, more extroverted, more conscientious – but not necessarily agreeable.

In contrast to the other surveys cited above, for my dissertation on the 45 super-rich I conducted extensive in-depth interviews, each lasting one to two hours. The super-rich didn’t take the short form of the Big Five test, but the long version with 50 questions.

Other important results of my interviews are: The super-rich are often non-conformists. You enjoy going against the grain and have no problem with contradicting prevailing opinions. Often they even enjoy it. It was also shown that the super-rich more often make gut decisions. They rely on their intuition rather than detailed analysis. I’ll come back to that later.

And – especially important: You deal with defeats and setbacks differently than most people. Many people tend to blame themselves for successes, but blame others for failures and setbacks.

As the interviews showed, the situation is quite different for the super-rich: they tend to blame themselves rather than external circumstances or other people. It gives them a sense of power: if it’s me, then I can change it. I control my life myself – and not others.

There are many reasons why some people succeed in getting rich and others don’t, but the specific combination of personality traits that both studies identified is certainly one of the reasons. Rich people get rich because they act differently than others. And they act differently because they think, make decisions, and react differently than most people.

So it’s not primarily about being “lucky” in life, but about certain personality traits and attitudes.

How about you? Do you have a “wealth personality”? I designed a test that has been clicked millions of times so far. On the one hand, it is not a scientific test and the results should be read with a wink. In fact, I found that very wealthy people perform very differently on the test than others, provided, as with all tests, that it is taken honestly. Maybe you’re not rich yet, but you have the potential? Find out! Here is the test.