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How Money Influences Brain Function and Behavior

be-in-the-loop - How Money Influences Brain Function and Behavior

Wealth can make you more immoral, and poverty stupider. 

So what is it exactly that happens to the human brain when money comes into play? The results from multiple researches found some incredible results. Check out the most interesting findings about how money affects the brain below.

Money affects the brain like drugs

Certainly it is not enough just to look at the bill. But if you are in a situation when, by the will of circumstances, you can gain or lose a certain amount of money, or are in negotiations about it, your brain activity increases.

This is especially true for the nucleus accumbens, an area that is part of the reward system and is important for processing motivation and emotions.

The riskier the situation, the stronger the activity. Brain images of people who participated in the experiment turned out to be almost identical with the results of MRI of cocaine addicts.  

Lack of money prevents reasoning soberly

people are believed to earn little, because they are not smart enough. However, scientists are able to prove that the opposite is true: lack of money causes them to make wrong decisions. Due to the stress caused by financial problems, a person partially loses the ability to process information, analyze the situation and determine priorities.

In the US, researchers asked a group of people to solve a hypothetical problem – to think about how to pay for car repairs. And then they set a number of unrelated spatial and logical tasks. It turned out that people with low incomes were bad at doing the job if they had to pay a lot for repairs, and good if not. High-income respondents were equally successful in both situations.

be-in-the-loop - How Money Influences Brain Function and Behavior

For the further experiment, the researchers moved to India and asked farmers to complete several tasks before harvesting, when there was no money, and after. And again, the hypothesis was confirmed.

Researchers have concluded that the more you worry about a difficult financial situation, the less resources are left for other things. So it’s better not to take important decisions in conditions when you are as bare as the palm of your hand, or your favorite sneakers got torn off. It is of great risk to only get worse.

You can smell a bad offer

n one study, participants were paired. One of them was supposed to offer the terms of the transaction, the other – to accept or reject. Both received money only if they could agree. Logically, it would be beneficial for the other testee to agree to any option to get at least something. However, people from this group rejected half of the proposals, which dealt with small amounts..

Prefrontal cortex is responsible for complex decisions. It was it that got actuated when the respondents heard how much they could get. But if the proposal was unfair, the activity affected the islet lobe responsible for emotions.

It is important that there are spindle cells in the islet lobe, as in the stomach. And this digestive organ often responds when it comes to strong emotions. So the injustice of the transaction can be felt simultaneously by the brain and stomach.

Wealthy people overestimate their role in creating wealth

If you work a lot, you will receive a lot — everything seems logical here. But rich people tend to believe that their earnings are only their merit. At the same time, they willingly write off the factors of chance, luck and other circumstances beyond the human control.

be-in-the-loop - How Money Influences Brain Function and Behavior

This works not only with real money, but also with banknotes from “Monopoly”. This game has been ruining families and friendships since 1935. But in the experiment, the conditions were tightened and pairs of players were just given different rules. One of them did not have a chance to win.

Researchers recorded how participants behaved. The more a person won, the ruder and tactless he was in relation to other people at the table. He celebrated the victory in advance, at his turn loudly clapping with an ace on the playing field.

It is worth remembering that wealth can change the way you treat other people. This will not always be true: sometimes the matter is in you, and not in them. Track this moment so as not to turn into an arrogant asshole.

The more money, the less empathy

Logically we continue the previous paragraph. People with lower economic status have a better understanding of what facial expressions mean. This is confirmed by studies of neural empathic reactions.

However, such results do not point to the special kindness of poor people. It is simply because of their constantly vulnerable position that they are forced to react more acutely to potential social threats. The favorable life of the rich is less dependent on others.

Thoughts about money relieve pain and suffering

In one study, participants were asked to lower their hands in a bowl of water heated to 50 ° C. Prior to that, some of them counted the money, others – just sheets of paper. Testees from the first group felt much less discomfort than from the second.

be-in-the-loop - How Money Influences Brain Function and Behavior

Here you can make two conclusions at once:

  • Do not pay too much attention to money, otherwise you may forget that there are other aspects of life in which there may be problems.
  • Money is a good way to get distracted if you encounter something that bothers you, but does not depend on your actions.

Money and immorality go hand in hand

Representatives of privileged classes are more likely to violate laws and ethical standards. Here it is not only about money, but about inequality in general. But finances, of course, affect the situation. Let’s say people in expensive cars were four times more likely to prevent pedestrians at intersections than drivers of cheaper cars. And testees from the upper classes more often cheated, scammed and more willingly agreed to participate in dubious schemes.

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