Psychology of Money

New Sci­ent­ist provides a com­pre­hens­ive sum­mary of stud­ies look­ing at the psy­cho­logy of money. There are some fas­cin­at­ing find­ings here, includ­ing a study show­ing that “simply think­ing about words asso­ci­ated with money seems to makes us more self-reli­ant and less inclined to help oth­ers [and] just hand­ling cash can take the sting out of social rejec­tion and even dimin­ish phys­ic­al pain”.

Our rela­tion­ship with money has many facets. Some people seem addicted to accu­mu­lat­ing it, while oth­ers can’t help max­ing out their cred­it cards and find it impossible to save for a rainy day. As we come to under­stand more about money’s effect on us, it is emer­ging that some people’s brains can react to it as they would to a drug, while to oth­ers it is like a friend. Some stud­ies even sug­gest that the desire for money gets cross-wired with our appet­ite for food. And, of course, because hav­ing a pile of money means that you can buy more things, it is vir­tu­ally syn­onym­ous with status – so much so that los­ing it can lead to depres­sion and even sui­cide. In these cash-strapped times, per­haps an insight into the psy­cho­logy of money can improve the way we deal with it.

*The ori­gin­al art­icle has, since post­ing this, gone behind a pay­wall. Simo­leon Sense has some extens­ive excerpts.