How often do you add up your bank accounts and other assets to learn where you stand financially? For that matter, do you bank online? If, so how often do you check your transactions and your balances? We check ours at least once a day and sometimes more often.
If we like the numbers, we feel pretty darn good – at least most of the time.
The fact is, money is like a drug. You’ve probably seen writers use this as a metaphor. However, scientists have found that your brain will react to money in some of the same ways it does to drugs. For that matter, the way your brain responds to different financial circumstances can actually cause you to feel pain or pleasure, get you feeling stronger, or even have you to refuse free money.
Money can be like cocaine
Scientists have used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to scan the brains of people while they are thinking certain thoughts or engaging in specific activities. What these studies have done is help them learn more about the effect money has on our brains.
In one experiment, participants were hooked up to fMRI devices while they played a game for money. Believe it or not, the fMRI scans revealed that the way these people’s brains worked was almost the same as those of drug addicts high on cocaine. In fact, they found that even other things like corpses or naked bodies did not have the same effect on people as money. It just got people riled up the way food motivates dogs.
What another study found
Researchers found in another study they could predict that people would choose investments that were riskier based on the activity in their nucleus accumbens.
Two takeaways came out of these studies., The first is that people could use the money for a safer high than drugs. The second is that the “high” you get from money could lead to making riskier choices. In other words, if you’re feeling too excited about a financial decision, slow down, take a deep breath, and think about it.
Why your brain might have you refuse free money
There is a thing called the ultimate game. It’s an experiment with two volunteers. The way it works is that scientists specify a certain amount of money and then offers a portion of it to a “responder.” In the event the person who responds accepts the offer, he, or she gets the money and the person that did the proposing gets the rest. If the responder refuses the money, both get nothing.
Here’s an example of how this works. Let’s suppose that you’re the responder and a proposer offers you $20 of the $100 you get to share. You then have the ability to say yes or no. In the event, you say yes, you get the $20 and the proposer gets $80. If you say no then neither of you gets anything.
There is a thing in game theory that says proposers will offer as little as they can in order to keep more, and the responders will take any proposal rather than getting nothing. However, in practice, proposers usually offer about 50% of the money, and the responders often refuse low offers – especially if those offers are 20% or less of the money. And scientists get the same results worldwide, even if participants are playing for an amount equal to their salaries for three months.
One of the best examples of this is real estate. Sellers often turned down offers for their homes for less than what they feel the homes are worth. But they then end up actually taking less.
Debt settlement and your brain
Most people who find debt relief through debt settlement also report a feeling similar to using drugs. They say they feel elation at the idea of being debt-free, as well as a sort of euphoria. Some actually likened their emotions to being about the same as taking an opioid.
Money can relieve pain
There have been a number of studies revealing that money can actually relieve pain. In fact, there was one experiment that found when people counted money they experienced less pain when they put their hands in hot water afterward. Another study revealed that people felt more pain from the hot water when they first thought about their recent expenses. The researchers also found that counting money lowered the pain of social distress.
So, next time you get a headache or are feeling social distress, try counting money.
It’s clear from the studies that maybe money can’t buy happiness but it can get you high. And getting high on money is certainly better than getting high on drugs. Plus, it can be a lot cheaper.