The virtue of thrift, defined as the wise use and distribution of resources, has yet to receive much empirical study, despite the popularization of virtue research more broadly within positive psychology. With the recent rise in perceived resource scarcity (North and Fiske in J Soc Issues 72:122–145, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1111/josi.12159), thrift is a virtue of increasing importance. The purpose of these studies is to establish the virtue of thrift as a construct for psychological inquiry. The Thrift Questionnaire 21 was developed with EFA (Study 1; N = 257) and validated with CFA (Study 2; N = 401) to measure five factors of thrift (frugality/ecocentrism, spending dysregulation, investment, sharing/borrowing, and sanctified thrift), which relate to other virtues and predict well-being after accounting for personality traits. Latent profile analysis of the thrift factors in Study 2 revealed three profiles for the virtue of thrift: instrumental thrift (40.1%), non-thrift (33.7%), and sanctified thrift (26.3%). Participants classified under the sanctified thrift profile reported the highest levels of spontaneous giving, self-reported generosity, and gratitude, which supports the classification of this profile as representing the virtue of thrift. Potential objections to thrift are addressed as well as future directions for research.
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Our choice to employ the Schnitker et al. (2019) conceptualization is rooted in philosophical commitments to the cultural specificity of virtues (e.g., MacIntyre 2007), research from developmental and personality psychology supporting the contextualized nature of the virtues (e.g., Lapsley and Narvaez 2014), and the conflicting literature surrounding the VIA’s measurement structure (e.g., Haslam et al. 2004; Macdonald et al. 2008; Ruch et al. 2019).
The data do not indicate participants must be religious for the scale to work as people who identified as non-religious demonstrated variability in sanctification, with some people scoring at higher levels.
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The preparation of this article was supported by a Grant from the Travis Research Institute at Fuller Theological Seminary.
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Ratchford, J.L., Schnitker, S.A. & Reppas, P. The Virtue of Thrift: A Person-Centered Conceptualization and Measure Development. J Happiness Stud 22, 385–411 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-020-00235-7