Money makes the heart grow less fond... but more hardworking

July 09, 2008

Money is a necessity: it provides us with material objects that are important for survival and for entertainment, and it is often used as a reward. But recent studies have shown that money is not only a device for gaining wealth, but a factor in personal performance, interpersonal relations and helping behavior, as well.

In a recent set of experiments, psychologists Kathleen D. Vohs of the University of Minnesota, Nicole L. Mead of Florida State University and Miranda R. Goode of the University of British Columbia found that participants' personal performance improved, and interpersonal relationships and sensitivity towards others declined, when they were reminded of money.

To set up one of the experiments, the researchers used four different types of reminders about money. One reminder involved participants playing a game of Monopoly and then being given either four thousand or two hundred dollars worth of play money before moving onto another task. In another, participants were asked to think about life with many or few financial resources. Participants in other experiments were reminded of money via organizing phrases that either were or were not related to money, and, in a final scenario, participants were exposed to computer screensavers of either cash or neutral items.

The results, recently published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, show remarkably clear conclusions. In each of the conditions, all participants who were reminded of money demonstrated behaviors consistent with decreased interpersonal skills and increased personal performance.

Specifically, those participants who were exposed to money spent less time helping a person who needed it, sat farther away from another person and preferred solitary activities. In addition, they showed preferences for working alone and asked for help less frequently. On the other hand, participants also revealed an increased desire to take on more work and showed greater persistence in difficult tasks.

The authors argue that, desirable or undesirable, money obviously plays a large role in human behavior and there is not enough experimental research on its psychological influence: "We encourage scientists to turn their attention toward the cognitive, motivational and behavioral consequences of money because the centrality of money in people's lives shows no sign of waning," they concluded.
-end-
Author Contact: Kathleen D. Vohs kvohs@umn.edu

Current Directions in Psychological Science publishes concise reviews on the latest advances in theory and research spanning all of scientific psychology and its applications. For a copy of the article "Merely Activating the Concept of Money Changes Personal and Interpersonal Behavior" and access to other Current Directions in Psychological Science research findings, please contact Katie Kline at (202) 293-9300 or kkline@psychologicalscience.org.

Association for Psychological Science

Related Money Articles from Brightsurf:

The secretive networks used to move money offshore
The researchers at USC have made some discoveries about the network behind the Panama Papers, uncovering uniquely fragmented network behavior and transactions.

Leaving money on the table to stay in the game
Unlike businesses or governments, organisms can't go into evolutionary debt -- there is no borrowing one's way back from extinction.

Money can't buy love -- or friendship
While researchers have suggested that individuals who base their self-worth on their financial success often feel lonely in everyday life, a newly published study by the University at Buffalo and Harvard Business School has taken initial steps to better understand why this link exists.

More taxpayers' money for the environment and public benefit
Over 3,600 scientists from across Europe call for effective action from the EU regarding its Common Agricultural Policy.

When money is scarce, biased behavior happens faster
Discrimination may happen faster than the blink of an eye, especially during periods of economic scarcity, according to a new study from Cornell University.

More money, more gabapentin
Pharmaceutical companies' payments to doctors may be influencing them to prescribe more expensive, brand-name versions of the pain drug gabapentin, a team of researchers report in the July 8, 2019 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, and the increasing use of the drug suggests it may be being abused. 

Why money cannot 'buy' housework
If a man is handy with the vacuum cleaner, isn't averse to rustling up a lush family meal most nights after he's put on the washing machine having popped into the supermarket on his way home then it's more than likely his partner will have her own bank account.

How information is like snacks, money, and drugs -- to your brain
A new study by researchers at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business has found that information acts on the brain's dopamine-producing reward system in the same way as money or food.

Ultra-secure form of virtual money proposed
A new type of money that allows users to make decisions based on information arriving at different locations and times, and that could also protect against attacks from quantum computers, has been proposed by a researcher at the University of Cambridge.

Time is money, especially when it comes to giving
Would you be more likely to donate to charity if you could report the gift sooner on your taxes?

Read More: Money News and Money Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.