We know swearing helps you withstand pain as does looking at attractive women but it also seems that having cash in hand can have the same effect.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota asked subjects to count either money or slips of paper before putting their hands in extremely hot water or playing a computer game that was rigged so that they would be excluded by other players.
When asked to rate either their pain level or feeling of exclusion those who had counted money felt significantly less pain and less excluded.
It also works in reverse. They asked people to either write down all their expenses for the previous month or record the weather. When they put them into the hot water or gaming scenarios afterwards the ones who had recorded their expenses felt more physical and emotional pain.
So having money makes you feel strong whilst lacking it makes you feel weak. It also makes you want to work alone and sit further away from other people (when they had cash on screen savers compared to tropical fish), not ask for help, and be less helpful. It also makes people want to spend their leisure time alone rather than with friends.
They also found that people became more self-sufficient because of money – even Monopoly money or screen savers showing cash made people work harder to achieve their goals, even when given impossible tasks. They were more focused and less distracted and hence more productive.
This only seems to work with money – not other expensive items such as jewellery. The researchers suggest that people should be rewarded in cash rather than bank payments; people complaining at customer services would be happier to be given real money rather than a voucher.
It gives the phrase “cash in hand” a whole new meaning.
Source: HBR March 2010