Money Makes You Feel Better

…according to Kathleen Vohs, professor of Marketing at U of Minnesota, who has conducted studies about the emotional and physical effects of handling money.

 In one of our experiments, our participants would come to the laboratory, and their first task would be either counting out slips of paper or counting out slips of money, hard currency. After that, we would have the participants then engage in a virtual ball tossing game. The participant does not pass the ball, and this elicits feelings of ostracism and social rejection. And we found that after our participants hand counted out money, as opposed to slips of paper, they felt less social pain, less rejection, less disrespect when it came to being rejected by those other participants.

It told us that money has pretty powerful psychological effects. And that when people are reminded of money, and they feel that they have some money, this means that they don’t need to be liked by others. They don’t need to be included by other people, because they have money to take care of their wants and needs.

They also did an experiment where they had people put their fingers in scaldingly hot water, and it seemed that the people who’d been handling money felt better about it (or less bad about it) than the people who hadn’t.

 I’ve given several talks at medical conferences now, because, sure, health care providers are very interested in the implications of this for how they can assuage pain in their patients.


NPR, “Study: handling money minimizes pain.” Marketplace. 14 April 2010.

Kestenbaum, David. “Your Brain Thinks Money is a Drug.” Planet Money. 

Wolman, David. The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, and Dreamers — and the Coming Cashless Society.

One Response to “Money Makes You Feel Better”
  1. dem says:

    This has to be related to the Lovemarks/Marketing section in E.6 somehow! Or at least this notion, even if not the somewhat creepy psychological behavior studies…

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