When it comes to money, people aren’t pursuing stacks of green paper or a collection of copper disks—they’re interested in what those objects represent. The pull of money, the economy and most behavioral research agree, is symbolic.
But what if the medium of exchange—cash itself—can change the way people behave? A study to be published next month in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology points toward that possibility. Its authors found, through a series of six experiments, that people who were prompted to think about money—literally just shown a picture of bills or coins—were more likely to conceal their emotions than those who viewed non-financial imagery. This study offers only the latest addition to the list of behaviors brought on by the mere thought of money.
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