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Own crypto? You’re a psychopath, scientists say

source-logo  crypto.news 09 July 2024 18:42, UTC

Recently released research also suggests that crypto investors ‘display lower levels of factors associated with analytic thinking.’ Ouch. But is this true?

A new scientific study exploring the types of people who own crypto has been released — and it doesn’t make for pleasant reading.

Researchers claim they’ve found a correlation between investing in digital assets and showing signs of narcissism, psychopathy and sadism.

“Cryptobros” are also more likely to be argumentative, believe in conspiracy theories, and rely on fringe social networks to get their news.

About 2,000 American adults took part in the study — and out of those, roughly 30% confirmed they had bought or sold cryptocurrencies in the past.

Academics noted that Bitcoin’s creation in the first place “was rooted in a strong distrust for mainstream, traditional currencies and financial institutions” — perhaps not unreasonably given it was launched in the immediate aftermath of a global recession. But they argued:

“A distrust of institutions and mainstream authorities is also strongly associated with characteristics such as conspiracy thinking … anti-science attitudes, the ‘need for chaos’ and non-mainstream political orientations.”

One key hypothesis put forward by this paper (which many in the crypto space won’t like at all) suggests that those who have bought into Bitcoin “display lower levels of factors associated with analytic thinking,” which you could argue is another way of calling them stupid. The study adds:

“People who invest in cryptocurrencies report experiencing significantly higher levels of perceived anxiety, depression, impulsivity, loneliness, mood disorders, and stress compared to those who do not.”

This particular point is quite interesting. For those who are deep down the rabbit hole and constantly keeping an eye on their portfolio in a 24/7 market, it’s easy to see how crypto investing can be stressful. Sudden bouts of volatility in the value of coins and tokens would undoubtedly make them anxious and impulsive — and given how the crypto space isn’t really an environment where mental health is talked about that often, with traders putting a brave face on their losses, perhaps feelings of loneliness are also to be expected.

The study went on to reveal that crypto owners tend to get their news from “alternative social media sources” such as Telegram, Reddit and Truth Social. This isn’t necessarily too much of a bombshell revelation, considering that there isn’t much discussion or coverage about digital assets provided by legacy outlets.

Rounding up who the typical digital asset investor looks like, the researchers wrote:

“A profile emerged reflecting cryptocurrency owners as more likely to be male or male-identifying, have somewhat higher income, who feel victimized by a life they perceive as having been unfair.”

The paper was written by Shane Littrell, Casey Klofstad and Joseph Uscinski, who are from the Universities of Toronto and Miami. The trio stressed that more research is now needed to see whether these correlations are entirely coincidental — and whether the political, psychological and social traits of investors vary based on whether they own Bitcoin or altcoins. Other areas they want to explore include the motivations for investing in crypto in the first place — and whether it’s primarily driven by a dislike for banks or a hunger to get rich quickly.

There are some limitations with this research. For one, it was conducted in 2022, and a lot has changed when it comes to the U.S. political climate — with Donald Trump recently becoming an ever more vocal advocate of cryptocurrencies. But at the time it was carried out, the conclusion was clear: investors aren’t necessarily Republican.

“Crypto purchasers, on average, share an eclectic mix of political attitudes, identities, and predispositions. This finding contrasts with past claims that cryptocurrencies are some sort of financial shibboleth of the ‘far-right.'”

And this is a point worth hammering home. Despite the headline-grabbing claims made by this study, it doesn’t really scratch the surface when it comes to understanding why people own crypto around the world.

From Latin American consumers looking for a safe haven against hyperinflationary currencies to those seeking to protect their wealth after being displaced by global wars to those looking for cheaper and fairer cross-border transactions, no two crypto investors are the same. It’s difficult to box in someone who has a small allocation of Bitcoin for the long term with a trader who apes into memecoins.

And while there are some things that do tend to unite the crypto community — passions for freedom, financial inclusion and privacy — it really is a broadchurch full of disagreements, differences and distinctions.

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