Where You Really Get Your Love for Bargains

Image Credit: fizkes/iStock/GettyImages

The thrill of the hunt isn't just for outdoors enthusiasts or even shopaholics. Think about how you feel about Black Friday, Groupon, and deal-finding browser extensions like Honey. If mega sales events or tireless couponing give you a jolt of serotonin, you might be a born and bred bargain hunter — literally.

New research published by the University of Chicago suggests that while your family has plenty to do with how you relate to shopping and money, there might actually be a genetic component to bargain-hunting behavior. The trait is called "deal proneness," and it really is about the buzz you get from scooping up an amazing sale. The researchers looked at how identical and fraternal twins responded to survey questions, and found strong evidence that enjoying bargain shopping might be something they inherited rather than learned alone.

How we shop is really a story about how we make choices, which means shopping can be a revealing experience for anybody — psychologists have even developed personality tests for it. There's also a certain intellectual pleasure in planning out how best to game your shopping. Overwhelmingly, we rely on our families to teach us about finances, thanks to a lack of formal instruction in most institutions.

It's important to remember, though, that any time a study comes out touting a "genetic" basis for some behavior, that doesn't mean there's a Michael Phelps of coupon-clipping out there. Even these researchers caution that this study raises more questions than it answers. Meanwhile, anyone can learn and master budgeting (and having smart fun while shopping around). Don't let ideas about DNA stop you.