Nice Guys’ Credit Scores Finish Last

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Illustration by Alexander Ho for TIME

If you’re cranky, selfish, rude or all-around disagreeable, your grouchiness comes with one big silver lining: You’re likely to have better credit than people who are affable, friendly and otherwise pleasant company. This unlikely finding was discovered in a study to be published soon in the Journal of Applied Psychology. “One of the interesting findings is that agreeableness is negatively correlated with credit scores,” says Jeremy Bernerth, lead researcher and professor at Louisiana State University. “It’s a little curious. You’d think that someone who’s agreeable might be more likely to pay their bills on time, but we kind of found the opposite.”

So, why do nice guys (and gals) finish last when it comes to credit scores? Bernerth speculates about a couple of reasons why otherwise positive personality traits might be a liability when it comes to credit scoring. For example, people who want to get along with everyone and make others happy might be more likely to bend to sales pressure to apply for store credit cards.

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Bernerth says people-pleasers might also be more easily persuaded to make unwise financial decisions on behalf of financially irresponsible loved ones, like co-signing a loan or a credit card. “It’s altruistic in nature that you’re doing these things, but if you look at the way credit scores are calculated, it may be a detrimental factor,” he says.

On the other hand, “People we termed disagreeable had the higher credit scores,” Bernerth says. While their look-out-for-number-one attitude might be off-putting to those around them, the flip side is that people with less empathy probably won’t fill out that credit card application just to make a cashier happy, or write a deadbeat relative a check the giver can’t really afford.

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There’s another possibility, too, Bernerth says. “There’s strong research that shows that agreeableness can negatively affect career earnings potential,” he says. “Disagreeable people do tend to get ahead.” Jockeying for a higher spot on the corporate ladder or marching into the boss’s office and demanding a raise might not make someone best-liked in their workplace. However, that person is more likely to be better-compensated than their more affable colleagues.

This behavior translates into more income and a greater degree of financial stability, both traits typical of people with better credit. “What they are doing is building their own perosnal equity,” Bernerth says. “Those people look out for themselves.”

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