Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Mental Health Center

Font Size

Money May Change How People Act

Just Thinking About Money May Have an Effect, Study Shows
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 16, 2006 -- Having money, or just thinking about money, may affect behavior, a study in Science shows.

"The mere presence of money changes people," says researcher Kathleen Vohs, PhD, in a University of Minnesota news release.

"The effect can be negative; it can be positive," says Vohs, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management.

Vohs' team studied nearly 300 undergraduates at the University of Minnesota and Canada's University of British Columbia.

In nine experiments, the researchers reminded some students about money.

For instance, some of those students received play money. Others sat in front of computers with money screen savers.

For comparison, other students didn't get any play money. They sat at computers with screen savers showing landscapes or other scenes without money.

Money Matters

In every test, students who received or were reminded of money were more self-sufficient than those who weren't given or reminded of money.

For example, the students in the money group worked longer by themselves on a task assigned by the researchers before asking for help.

But when asked to help someone with another project, those students didn't help as much as those who weren't exposed to money.

Students in the money groups also preferred to work and spend their leisure time alone.

"The results of nine experiments suggest that money brings about a self-sufficient orientation in which people prefer to be free of dependency and dependents," write the researchers.

They note that "the self-sufficient pattern helps explain why people view money as both the greatest good and evil."

Community Effect?

The researchers aren't saying that everyone reacts the same way to money. The experiments were short and simpler than real life.

But if the findings are correct, it may mean that money affects communities, the researchers note.

"As countries and cultures developed, money may have allowed people to acquire goods and services that enabled the pursuit of cherished goals, which in turn diminished reliance on friends and family," Voh's team writes.

"In this way, money enhanced individualism but diminished communal motivations, an effect that is still apparent in people's responses to money today," the researchers continue.

A journal editorial notes that "money is a very large fact in the lives of everyone who lives in a modern economy" and that "the way we respond to that fact makes a difference in our lives."

Vohs' study shows that "merely thinking about money can push people into a narrowly individualistic frame of mind," write the editorialists.

They included Carole Burgoyne, PhD, of the School of Psychology at England's University of Exeter.

Today on WebMD

Differences between feeling depressed or feeling blue.
lunar eclipse
Signs of mania and depression.
man screaming
Causes, symptoms, and therapies.
woman looking into fridge
When food controls you.
Woman standing in grass field barefoot, wind blowi
senior man eating a cake
woman reading medicine warnings
depressed young woman
man with arms on table
man cringing and covering ears

WebMD Special Sections