Pursuing money: it can have negative consequences

We have all seen the rich behave in strange and often obnoxious ways. Turns out, money can have very undesirable effects on our behavior.

In a series of famous experiments, Kathleen Vohs, an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota has shown that people primed for money become excessively self-centered and socially insensitive.

Priming is a well-understood concept in psychology; people are exposed to a stimuli (say, images of money) and their reaction to other stimuli are then observed. Priming plays a big role in our behavior and has interesting implications for marketers.

In one experiment, the researcher accidentally drops a box of pencils near the subjects. People primed for money picked up less pencils than those who were neutrally primed. Conclusion: money-primed subjects are less inclined to help their fellow human beings.

In another experiment, subjects are asked to arrange two chairs so that could get to know another person. People who were primed for money place the chairs further apart than others. Money priming makes us self-centric and less interested in others.

In yet another experiment, subjects are asked to solve a set of somewhat tricky puzzles. As the researcher leaves the room, he offers help in case the subjects want it. Money primed people took twice as long to ask for help. Conclusion: thoughts of money and independence are strongly correlated.

These and similar experiments have returned consistent results over the years. While money priming may make us more independent, it also makes us more selfish and less sensitive to others.

Guess most of us don’t need scientific proof for what we have always suspected; the rich can be mean and stingy.

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About Rahul K

Founder/CEO of Morefish, an executive search, training and marketing consulting firm. Focus areas: digital marketing, marketing communications (advertising, branding, media, PR) and marketing.
This entry was posted in Life, Psychology, Strategy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Pursuing money: it can have negative consequences

  1. Anonymous says:

    There is a saying “if you want to know whether God likes money, look at the people he gave it to”!

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