Friday, December 01, 2006
Just thinking about money changes you.
"The Psychological Consequences of Money" by Vohs et. al. in the Nov 17 issue of Science and an accompanying commentary by Burgoyne and Lee report on nine different experiments that show "that even quite trivial exposure to the idea of money (for example, unscrambling phrases about money or reading an essay about money aloud) changes the goals and behavior of test subjects (none of the student participants in the study realized that it was about money)...it brings about a self-sufficient orientation in which people prefer to be free of dependency and dependents. Reminders of money, relative to nonmoney reminders, led to reduced requests for help and reduced helpfulness toward others. Relative to participants primed with neutral concepts, participants primed with money preferred to play alone, work alone, and put more physical distance between themselves and a new acquaintance...The self-sufficient pattern helps explain why people view money as both the greatest good and evil. As countries and cultures developed, money may have allowed people to acquire goods and services that enabled the pursuit of cherished goals, which in turn diminished reliance on friends and family. In this way, money enhanced individualism but diminished communal motivations, an effect that is still apparent in people's responses to money today."