How can money influence people and it’s effects on behavior and happiness


If you came here from Is money good or bad? then you will know what I’m talking about, but if you don’t then I recommend you to check that out.

Now let’s get to it, How Money Can Change People and Affect Their Behavior?

Going from rags to riches is essentially the American Dream. Whether it happens by way of a better-paying job or winning the lottery, some studies suggest that money can change your behavior – and not always for the better. Of course, there are plenty of charitable, helpful, and giving wealthy people. However, results from some studies have proven that they may be the exception, rather than the rule.

Your thoughts, behavior, and actions are all linked to your psychology, which is composed of a host of factors ranging from your genetic makeup to the way you were raised. While money doesn’t exactly shape your belief system, it can influence the way you think and act toward others. Gaining a better understanding of the sway that money – or the lack of it – may have on your behavior can make you more aware of when it might be pulling your strings and, hopefully, help you learn to stop it.

Ways Money Affects Behavior

From your relationships to the way you view yourself, cash can have a serious bearing on your beliefs. There are numerous pieces of scientific evidence behind the idea that money truly can change people.

Social and Business Value

A 2004 study proved that money alters how you value your time and effort. Researchers James Heyman and Dan Ariely created an experiment by which they could measure how motivated a person was to complete a task based upon money. Subjects were asked to drag circles across a computer screen. One group was asked to do this as a “favor.” Another group was asked to do it for $0.50, and the last group was offered $5. After timing the subjects, it was actually the group asked to perform the task as a favor that did it the fastest. Next was the $5 group, and last was the $0.50 group.

Self-Sufficiency and Service

Those who are conscious of money typically strive to be more self-sufficient than those for whom money isn’t a priority – at least that’s what a 2009 Yale School of Management study found. The study was structured around Monopoly money. One group of subjects entered a room that had several reminders of money, such as Monopoly cash on the table, statements about money, and even financial conversation. The second group of subjects entered a room where money wasn’t mentioned, and both were issued a test.


The amount you earn could have an effect on how you view both yourself and others. A study published in an August 2013 issue of the “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology” asked individuals to rate things such as class, genetics, and even I.Q. When the results were analyzed, they were defined as an individual’s sense of “class essentialism” – the idea that the differences between classes are based on identity and genetics, rather than circumstance.


When doing your taxes, do you report them perfectly, or do you think it’s acceptable to fudge the numbers a bit? A 2012 study published in an issue of “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America” asked if wealth and perception of a higher class could increase an individual’s involvement in unethical behavior.


Many addictions begin because a person gets a positive response from a certain type of behavior. Whether it’s a happy feeling you get from shopping or a thrill that comes from gambling, actively seeking out that behavior again and again for the same outcome can trigger an addiction. This is called a “behavioral or process addiction” – a compulsive behavior not motivated by dependency on an addictive substance, but rather by a process that leads to a seemingly positive outcome.


In connection with the previous one, people who have a lot of money, tend to have a hard time dealing with people. You see, there are actually people who would do anything for money, so if you have a lot, there will be people out there who might pretend to be a good friend, but all they really want is your money. There are also people out there, who will judge you just because you have money. The conflict between the people around is just endless, unpredictable, and unstoppable.

Money shouldn’t make the world go round, so it must not take control of people’s lives. It has its good sides and bad sides, but it is always up to you which path you are going to choose.

Money buys happiness

Money can buy some pretty fine experiences, from luxurious abodes and travels to art, beautiful clothes and good food. An interesting question to ask, however, is if people’s ambitions to accumulate wealth might impinge upon their ability to savor the everyday pleasures – the mundane things that were identified at the start of the lecture. Will a life of opulence undermine a person’s ability to enjoy simple things like “ice-cream”, “Facebook”, “long showers”, or “catching a bus just in the nick of time”?

Scollon mentioned a past study by researchers at the University of British Columbia in which two groups of participants were treated to chocolates. One group was primed with money, and the other was exposed to a neutral condition. Both groups filled out a survey on how much they enjoy eating chocolates, and then they proceeded to eat chocolates. Observers watched and timed the participants. What they found was that the group exposed to notions of wealth and money beforehand savored the chocolates less and ate much faster, compared to the control group. But while this study’s findings go towards supporting the argument that money diminishes the joys we derive out of the simple pleasures, Scollon noted that overall, money can still have a more positive than negative impact on people’s lives. Sure, a person might enjoy “ice-cream” or “Facebook” less, but “people with money have better nutrition, better health, longer lives; they have more leisure time, more time to spend with their family and friends; all of which contribute to happiness,” she said.

People with money get to enjoy greater choices, on how they spend their time and resources. “They spend more time doing things that they want to do, less time on drudgery. And of course, on top of all of these things, rich people have nicer shoes,” she quipped. “Wealthier countries also have cleaner water, better infrastructure, less disease, and as a result of less disease, people have higher IQs.” The paradox, Scollon pointed out, is that wanting money seems to make life worse but having money seems to make life better. How do we make the best out of the situation? The secret may lie in the way we spend our money.

Helpful articles:
SMU (Singapore Management University)