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Does Money Make Rejection Less Painful


There are two ways to navigate society: Being liked or being wealthy. Which is exactly why Kathleen Vohs and her colleagues developed the hypothesis that reminders of money might be able to alter the impact of how people perceive social events of acceptance or rejection. In particular, they reasoned, that even the mere thought of money should influence how much we are bothered by rejection, or care for social acceptance.

“social rejection (ostracism) produces brain responses that resemble responses to physical pain” and “as money may be linked with social pain, it may be linked with physical pain, because social and physical pain rely on similar mechanisms.”

Vohs et al. came up with these specific hypotheses for their line of experiments:

  1. “Pain should increase the desire for money.”
  2. “Thoughts of having money should reduce feelings of pain caused by an external stimulus”, and
  3. “Thoughts of spending or losing money should intensify pain.”

“counting money, which presumably evoked the idea of getting and having money, reduced the suffering induced by … real physical pain… both social rejection and thoughts of physical pain led to increased desire for money … remembering having spent money [makes people] more vulnerable to distress in response to social exclusion and physical pain

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