The Psychological Consequences of Money

Study Proposal #12:  The Psychological Consequences of Money (Vohs et al.) (C) |  27NOV13


This study presented evidence that priming about money leads to antisocial and more individualistic behaviour. With this in mind, I claim that the self-sufficiency money prime reduces how much people recall about their social position and increases how much they can recall about their lifetime goals and wants. A money prime should make thoughts about the breadth of one’s social integration less salient and make thoughts about individual accomplishment more salient if the claims in this study are correct. My claim would generalize the outcome of the paper. With money it is less necessary to consider the breadth of your social connections if you have the financial ability to accomplish goals on your own. Thus, there would be less thinking devoted to it.


The experiment will follow a similar priming structure to the studies Ersner-Hershfield et al. paper but will have a different activity. A random population sample with a control group and a group primed with money will be used.

There will be two activities that both groups participate in, but the order will of activities will be randomized so that within groups an equal number of participants will have b) before a) and vice versa. Participants will fill out a questionnaire in front of a screen saver before beginning the activity, as in the original studies, with those in the money condition seeing a money screensaver midway through. They will then complete the activities. One of the activities will be a mind-mapping activity where they will be given a large sheet with “me” circled in the middle. They will be asked to brainstorm as many of their friends and family as they can and write them as nodes on the page, connecting the nodes to each other and back to “me” with lines indicating relations. The other activity to happen before or after is a goal setting list activity where participants will be asked to list their short, medium and long term goals and the things they need to accomplish these goals.  Time will be unlimited.

Experiment structure / predictions a) Friends & Family Mapping activity b) Goal setting listactivity
Control draw more nodes and connections list fewer goals
Money Prime draw fewer nodes and connections & spend less time on activity list more goals & spend more time on activity


    If feelings of self-sufficiency are greater and feelings of connection to community are lesser in those primed with money, then participants in the money condition in this study will list far fewer nodes and connections of friends and family and far more goals than those in the control condition. This is because the priming about money will make information about goals more salient than information about social integration.


This study would support the findings in the Vohs & al. paper and suggest that priming about money makes social information less salient and personal self sufficiency more salient. Perhaps we could reduce greed by emphasizing social integration to monied people. We also might make money primes more salient at universities to encourage motivation. The more important implication is this would confirm that money has a real effect of increasing feelings of self sufficiency and reducing salience of an integrated social identity which can be problematic for the health of any society.

question, agree or disagree

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