Impulse Buying and Personality

According to Thompson and Prendergast (2015), our personality traits affect our purchase behaviour, especially in terms of impulse buying.

Through their research on 842 volunteers, they found that 3 of the 5 traits in the five factor model of personality affect our inclination to purchase items on impulse.

But before we delve into how our personality traits affect our purchase behaviours, let us understand how impulse buying comes about.

Impulse Buying

Firstly, impulse buying comes about when we sacrifice long term goals (such as saving money) for short term reasoning (“look at the money I can save if I buy this now”)

Secondly, impulse buying comes about when we stop thinking about the consequences of the purchase decision (credit purchases are easier than cash purchases… kind of hurts to pay cash, but that action helps us to monitor our spending)

Thirdly, impulse buying comes about when we don’t have enough mental energy to resist (such as when we are down in the dumps, feeling unhappy)

PEAKS and Impulse Buying

So, when the above clarified, how does our PEAKS affect them?

3 Factors: Purpose, Energy and Sustainability

After controlling for effects of gender and age, the researchers found that:

1) the higher your Purpose, the less likely you will buy on impulse

2) the higher your Energy, the more likely you will buy on impulse

3) the higher your Sustainability, the less likely you will buy on impulse

And among the 3 traits, Purpose has the greatest effect.


Hence, if you are troubled with uncontrollable spending and debts that are building up, try leveraging on these actions.

1) Define your savings goal, write it down and remind yourself constantly

2) Bring a picture of your family everywhere you go and remind yourself of your duties towards them

3) Include an accountability partner (can be your spouse or someone you can trust) when you go shopping

4) Plan in advance of what you need to buy and budget for it, bring enough cash to get the things you need, and keep your credit cards out of convenience

5) If you must shop online, ask someone (who does not buy on impulse) for a second opinion before you make the purchase


Thompson, E. R. & Prendergast, G. P. (2015) The influence of trait affect and the five-factor personality model on impulse buying. Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 76, 216 – 221.