Nothing Relieves the Pain Like a Few Benjamins

Who cares if money can't buy you love? It can still be your BFF. Jay MacDonald writes:

Who cares if money can’t buy you love? It can still be your best friend forever.

That’s one of the surprising findings in a new Chinese-American academic research paper, “The Symbolic Power of Money,” published in the journal Psychological Science.

Like any best friend forever, money demonstrated to researchers its ability to soothe us, reduce our sense of social exclusion and even lessen life’s painful moments.

As researcher Xinyue Zhou of the psychology department at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China, puts it, money acts as a substitute for another of life’s pain buffers: love.

“I was surprised,” says Katherine Vohs, co-author and marketing professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. “The findings were surprising because no one had connected the symbolic meaning of money to pain. The money wasn’t buying the subjects more friends or a soothing cream; it was only psychologically helpful.”

Like any best friend forever worthy of the BFF acronym.

In the Chinese studies, students were told they would be participating in a test of finger dexterity. One group was given a stack of Chinese currency to count, while another was given blank pieces of paper.

Once the counting was complete, the test subjects were asked to dip their fingers into bowls of water heated to 122 degrees — roughly the temperature of a very hot bath.

Result? Those who had been counting money reported less pain than those who had been riffling through blanks. (Read more)


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