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Seen At 11: New Research Shows That Spending Habits May Be Genetic

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Black Friday shoppers hit the streets

Black Friday shoppers hit the streets (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Do you like to shop and spend maybe a little too much? Do you have trouble saving?

It may not be your fault. New science suggests that genetics may cause your brain to be wired that way.

Angelica Boccella and her mother don’t always agree on her spending habits.

“A month ago, I had to bail her out, ahem,” said Angelica’s mother, Lisa.

Lisa admits she can understand her daughter’s love of shopping.

“When I was younger I remember just buying and buying and buying and it does run in the family. I have two sisters who shop a lot, her grandmother owns a pair of Louboutins,” said Lisa.

Expensive shoes aside, new research now backs up Boccella’s theory that “a love of shopping” is genetic. It may be no different from other family traits, like certain mannerisms, eye color, hair texture, even a laugh.

“When you look at the family and you look at the parents and the kids, there is a lot of resemblance,” said genetics expert Dr. Gil Altzmon.

Researchers from the University of Washington studied 15,000 sets of twins, since the early 1950s to come to the conclusion that you are either born to save or to spend. They found that the twins had the same spending patterns, even among those who had lost contact with one another.

Altzmon and other researches claim that this is due to a shared genetic background.

The study says that genetics is the single greatest reason why a person chooses to save or spend. The discovery has spawned a new field known as geno-economics. 

To Lisa and her mother the theory rings true.

“I think I was born this way,” said Angelica.

“I see it in my family and it’s true,” added her mother.

Psychologist April Benson specializes in compulsive spending. She told CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson that this new research could be key in helping the more than 13 million Americans dealing with this problem.

“If we believe that somebody is genetically determined to be a spender, then this might be the kind of person that we try and help enhance their financial self-control,” Benson said.

But, Dr. Altzmon says not so fast. Before you use this study as an excuse to hit the mall, remember, genetics is just one of many influences when it comes to spending.

“I think the environment in this case is much more prevalent,” he said.

And genetics aside, if you don’t have the money you can’t do what may come naturally.

The authors of the study say that by age 40 a person’s spending is almost fully governed by their genetic predispositions.

Are you a shopaholic? Does the rest of your family share your penchant for spending? Let us know in our comments section below…

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