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Aug 22, 2013 09:04 AM EDT

Savers Are More Romantically Attractive Than Spenders, Study

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Savers are generally preferred over spenders in romantic relationships, according to a study conducted by researchers Jenny Olson and Scott Rick of the University Of Michigan Ross School Of Business.

Olson is a doctoral candidate at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and Rick is an assistant professor of marketing at the school. They both worked on the paper, 'A Penny Saved is a Partner Earned: The Romantic Appeal of Savers.'

"You would think that spending would be more attractive, because things like flashy watches or purses are so visible," Olson said. "Those things can also be perceived as wasteful and lacking in self-control. And self-control is a very desirable quality in a potential mate."

Olson arrived at the conclusion after asking participants to evaluate dating profiles. The findings showed that savers were considered more desirable. On a scale of 1-7, the participants scored them 5 in terms of attractiveness, while spenders ranked 4.

"Because general self-control also encourages healthy behaviors that promote physical attractiveness, savers are viewed as more physically attractive as well," the authors wrote.

The findings also showed that savers score big in attractiveness when they are involved in long-term relationships.

"If you are talking about a short-term fling, it does not really matter what your partner's spending habits are," Olson said. "But over the long term, it becomes a question of self-control: Can your potential partner take care of themselves and inhibit their bad impulses, in terms of money, of diet, of exercise? Those things matter."

According to the authors, one possibility is that savers may be viewed as having greater financial resources than spenders (unless the inference is that people save because they do not have the money to spend).

Recent research suggests that financial viability (strong earning potential, in particular) helps to predict romantic desirability among both men and women. However, financial viability is not a leading predictor of ideal mate preferences.

Another possibility is that spenders are viewed as more materialistic than savers, which could have negative interpersonal consequences.

To further strengthen the findings, Olson once again asked the respondents whether they were savers or spenders in a private questionnaire, the result was even, 50/50. But when she asked the same people to create dating profiles, surprisingly a much higher percentage of people claimed they were savers, as they believed the profiles were for public viewing.

"People have an intuition that saving is an attractive thing," Olson said. "Be careful that your potential partner might be lying about their financial attitudes - just like they might be lying about their height or weight."

As a result, the authors noted that people are more likely to deceptively describe themselves as savers when completing a dating profile than when completing a private questionnaire.

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