How does money affect society
Psychology of money : "People are hooked on cash"
Ms. Hammond, you researched your “Psychology of Money” for two years and evaluated 250 studies. Has this changed your relationship to money?
Yes, for example I no longer buy in the middle price segment today.
Was your book deal so well endowed?
I often go for the cheapest product now. As a result of my research, I became aware that dealers only display the most expensive models because that gives the second most expensive models the impression that they belong to the middle price range. Countless studies show that many purchase decisions are based on the so-called compromise effect. It has often proven to be sensible in life to avoid extremes, to choose the middle path. Business people take advantage of this, they just put the extra padded toilet paper and the particularly sophisticated computer on the shelf to prevent people from reaching for the cheapest product.
Which direction of psychology are you pursuing? No psychoanalysis ...
…No. I'm interested in provable results from scientific studies.
What surprised me most was the study, in which counter staff increased their tips by 150 percent, allegedly by touching the guests beforehand ...
... only touched lightly on the upper arm. Two French psychologists observed the effect in a bar in the Breton coastal town of Vannes.
In Germany, physical contact with strangers is considered intrusive. Is this trick only applicable in France?
The experiment was repeated in England and it worked there too. In another study, waiters put the bill on heart-shaped plates and the guests also gave them more tips. We all consider ourselves very sensible when it comes to money matters, and yet we are subliminally highly influenceable.
The German sociologist Georg Simmel wrote “On the Psychology of Money” over 100 years ago. It says that money takes the place of God. “The feeling of calm and security that the possession of money provides in contrast to all other possessions, corresponds psychologically to that which the pious find in his God.” What has changed since then?
Money takes an ever more central place in society, which is conditioned by capitalism. Three-quarters of American students said in a survey that they care about achieving financial prosperity. Twice as many as 30 years earlier.
This is understandable given the state of the American social system. In addition, why is money so fascinating?
Money activates the reward system in the brain just like drugs or sweets. The neurotransmitter dopamine is released. The special thing about money is that the happiness hormone is already released if an amount is even promised. If someone is promised chocolate for a later date, it does not have the same effect.
What is it that fascinates you personally about money?
I am not particularly enthusiastic about money as such. I am fascinated by the psychological construct. A banknote is basically just a piece of paper - with no value of its own, such as that of precious metals. But the bill is a promise that someone can exchange it for something, and the promise works because we all believe in it. I just booked a domestic flight in Vietnam. I have to go there professionally in a few weeks. I can assume that the plane is there, that it is taking off and that the crew is being paid. Money is the commercialization of trust.
In your book you write about experiments in which the subjects were only shown bundles of money, and they promptly changed. Usually they got nastier.
Yes, attempts at priming. A common method in psychology. A key stimulus, here the bundle of money, activates memory contents that influence behavior. In one study, for example, some of the subjects had to count money, while others didn't. A staff member had been instructed to drop a pen afterwards, and the experimenter watched who was picking it up. The result: people are less helpful if they have counted money beforehand.
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