Just the thought of money makes us unsociable

Money makes us unsociable

Just the thought of money makes us more insular, more unsociable, and makes us want to be more independent.

Kathleen Vohs et al conducted various experiments to study the way people’s behaviour changes when they have money on their minds. One of my favourites had participants fill out a form in a small room. They “happened” to be filling out the form on a desk in front of a computer monitor which, in some cases, had a screensaver of a floating dollar bill. After the form was finished the experimenter said they had to go and fetch something, and whilst they did that would the participant please set up two chairs for a face to face meeting.

The distance between the chairs, as set out by the participant, was then measured. Those who had filled in the form with a neutral screensaver set them up an average of 80 cm apart. Those who had a dollar bill screensaver in their peripheral vision set them an average of 120 cm apart.

Just having money in the back of their minds (as primed by the dollar bill screensaver) made people set up the chairs 50% farther apart than otherwise. This was a result of them feeling more independent and insular.


Find out more about how the mind plays tricks on you and how your memory works by reading my books, Bias Beware and Memory Matters.