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Money Mentality

December 6, 2006

Thinking about money can encourage both self-reliance and self-centeredness.


How cash changes behavior. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Does money encourage self-sufficiency, or selfishness? Yes and yes, according to University of Minnesota consumer psychologist Kathleen Vohs. In a series of experiments, Vohs and her colleagues found that the mere suggestion of money—through word games, pictures, or play money—made people work longer on challenging tasks before asking for help. But it also made them less inclined to help others on similar tasks, donate spare change to charity, or even pick up somebody’s dropped pencils.

KATHLEEN VOHS (University of Minnesota):
So it suggested that they just thought that everyone should be working toward their own goals without wanting help, just like they had done in the other experiment.

She says the bottom line is that money appears to promote self-reliance, which has positive and negative social consequences. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.