Bitcoin Enthusiasts Are ‘Not Psychopaths’, New Research Concludes

The average Bitcoin investor is a financial genius of impeccable character, according to new research. Canadian investors, anyway.

Stefano Di Domenico, a behavioral scientist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto, is finalizing a joint study on the “psychological makeup and financial literacy of Bitcoiners.” While the results have not yet been officially released, he previewed its findings at the Canadian Bitcoin Conference earlier this month.

Drawing on a sample of 500 Canadian retail crypto investors, the co-author noted that his findings contradicted common misconceptions about the demographic—often caricatured as immature “crypto bros” who are irresponsible with their money.

“Bitcoiners tend to be intellectually curious and emotionally stable,” Di Domenico wrote on LinkedIn regarding his findings earlier this month. “They value personal growth, relationships, community, and health over material possessions and having a ‘high-status’ image.”

The research survey included more than 350 questions intended to address more than a dozen hypotheses. Di Domenico acknowledged the input of “Bitcoin-agnostic colleagues” for “critical and open-minded contributions,” and noted that the findings are still being prepared for peer review.

“My colleagues and I are looking forward to finishing up our paper and sharing a fuller, more detailed set of findings,” Di Domenico tweeted today.

Even so, the study’s early results provide a stark contrast from a high-profile study covered by the New York Post two years ago, which summarized its findings in a headline saying Bitcoiners are “psychopaths who don’t care about anyone.”

That study, conducted by scientists at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, said many crypto investors exhibited all four “dark tetrad” traits including narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadism. One of the authors admitted, however, that their survey of 566 people covered “only a subset of people interested in crypto who do have these traits.”

Di Domenico’s study specifically surveyed customers of the Canadian crypto exchange platform Shakepay, according to the study’s registration page.

Aside from being growth-oriented, the author said crypto investors are also financially literate. “It’s worth noting that both Bitcoiners and crypto enthusiasts both scored significantly higher in financial literacy than the general population,” he said.

This finding has independent support: according to a 2021 Bank of Canada study, Canadian crypto investors tend to congregate toward the extremes of low and high financial literacy, while investors with average financial knowledge are least likely to invest.

“Despite the tabloid claims, Bitcoiners are not psychopaths,” Di Domenico added.

When the study began in early September, the author hypothesized that Bitcoin ownership would positively correlate with “risk tolerance” and “financial wellness.” He also predicted that those who only own Bitcoin would score lower on “dark tetrad” traits than those who also invest in Ethereum or various other crypto assets. It has yet to be revealed whether those theories were validated by the study.

When contacted by Decrypt, Di Domenico declined to provide further comment beyond the conference presentation until the study has been peer-reviewed and formally published.

Edited by Ryan Ozawa.

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