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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More Money, Less Pain


According to new research, if you have ample money, you are more immune to physical pain and social slights than an impoverished person.

As reported in the June issue of the journal Psychological Science, psychologists recently explored the psychological meaning of money in the laboratory. They ran a series of experiments to examine the effects of earning or losing money, social acceptance or rejection and physical pain.

According to Newsweek:
The psychologists used a ruse to prime volunteers' thoughts about money. The testgivers told subjects that they were taking part in a dexterity test, in which half of them counted pieces of paper and the other half counted a stack of $100 bills, a lab task well known to activate the idea of earning and having money.

Then they ran two experiments. In one, the volunteers all took part in a pain-tolerance test, which involved dipping the volunteers' fingers in very hot water. In another, they participated in a computerized ball-tossing game, which had been set up to shun certain players ~ much like kids are ostracized on the playground.The idea was to see if being flush with cash would lead to less painful feelings of rejection ~ and if it would salve actual physical suffering as well.

It did both, unmistakably. Those who had counted real C-notes reported less pain ~ both social and physical ~ than did those who had just counted paper.
So, why would this be the case?
The psychologists' theory is that social pain is merely a modern version of more basic physical pain. Our ancient brain evolved a pain detector to warn us away from peril, and as we became social animals, the emotional pain detector was piggy-backed on top. The modern brain mixes them up.

They further speculate that money is a social resource, interchangeable with popularity. Having money increases people's confidence in their ability to negotiate their social world. So having money bolsters self-esteem and defuses the pain of ostracism ~ and in the process diminishes actual pain.

Click here for the Newsweek article.

2 comments:

angelcel said...

I've been popping by your site for some time now and a hello is long overdue. I love the variety of interesting pieces that you have here.
With regard to today's piece, I have to admit that having been at both ends of the financial spectrum, this research does ring a few bells with me!

Gregory LeFever said...

Thanks so much for saying hello, angelcel. I'm glad you enjoy my blog. I visited yours and liked it as well.

You might relate to the fact that I just finished reading Jill Bolte Taylor's "Stroke of Insight" for the second time ~ I find it a profound book that has great lessons on how to find peace in this tumultuous existence.

And thanks again for posting "Baker Street" on your blog!

Please continue to visit here ~ you're always welcome!