Current Research

Can Believing in the Power of Money Make you Stronger?

An On-going Study

Today, money is more of an idea than simply an object, and that idea represents power. To emphasize this point, economists rarely use the term money anymore, but instead reference money as “having spending power” (The Problem of Money). To inspire employees to work harder, Geare (1975) found that “plant or companywide participation and cooperation, encouraged by bonus payments” is the best method. Crump (1981) theorized that money is a symbol, it is not the actual dollar that brings a recipient joy, but instead they are interested in “what the money will buy” (p.16). Money, metaphorically, takes on the physical form of potential and security in that human needs can be satisfied through purchasing products with cash.

Vohs, Mead, and Goode (2006) found that simply the notion of money provides individuals with a strong sense of strength and efficacy. They further found that that sense of self-efficacy improved their participant’s ability to withstand physical and emotional pain. Participants who handled crisp, clean dollar bills, even when the money they were handing they did not own and had no possibility of attaining in the future, reported feeling stronger and were more resistant to exclusion. However, money was also found to be a representation of an individual’s economic stability. When an individual who was financially stable handled the cash, they reported feeling stronger but for individuals who were struggling financially, handling the cash reminded them of unpaid bills and outstanding debts and had an adverse effect on their confidence level.

When asked to rank topics such as politics, work, sex, money, family, food, and money in order of importance, Rubenstein (1981) found that fourteen percent of participants in his nationwide poll ranked money as the most important with sixty-two percent ranking money in the top three. Rubenstein (1981) also found during a survey of 20,000 people that how people view money is dependent on how individuals perceive themselves and their lives as a whole and sixty-one percent of the participants stated that it was their belief that income is “very or moderately revealing of success”. Furnham (1984) found that individuals receiving a higher income than the average employee held a stronger belief that the ability to earn money was a product of their “effort and ability”. Furnham (1984) went on to say that participants with high-work ethic were “obsessed” by money.

Lee, Zhao M., & Zhao Y. (2015) did a study in which participants at an All-You-Can-Eat buffet were split into two groups. One group was reminded of the price they paid for the meal through visual cues while the other group received no such cues. Their findings showed that participants who received the visual cue consumed significantly more food than when they were not reminded of the money they had spent for the meal. In further studies, Lee, Zhao M., & Zhao Y. (2015) found that this notion applies in other environments when they used the same concept of placing visual cues around an amusement park and found that when the signs were present, participants rode significantly more rides than when the signs were absent. These studies show that when participants are exposed to money, they attempt to maximize economic value despite the fact that their consumption of products does nothing to affect the price they had paid. Applying this concept to the workplace, is it possible that employees who handle money will associate this with their paycheck and work harder, although their effort will not be reflected in their pay?

By having employees handle cash while on the job, employees may actually put forth more effort. This will be tested by having participants complete a procedure that includes the measuring of grip strength. The Jamar dynamometer is reportedly the best device at measuring grip strength and is frequently used by the American Society of Hand Therapists (Research Gate). To eliminate the possibility of physical fatigue effects interfering with the results of the experiment, a one-minute rest period will exist between each participant’s measurement, which was found by Watanabe et. al. as being the ideal interval measurement to allow for recovery. The best measurements of grip strength are recorded when participants place their elbow at a ninety-degree position (which also allows for the elimination of differences due to arm position). Participants will also be instructed to use their dominant hand as using the non-dominant hand is reported to lower scores by ten percent.

By testing a participant’s hand strength before and after handling money, a conclusion can be drawn about whether or not people not only feel more powerful after handling money, but if they put forth more effort and are really more powerful as well. Money may not buy happiness, but if the outcome of this experiment does show a significant increase in the amount of effort participants illustrate, then I am sure many corporate business owners will be happy as can be to have a new technique that can improve the overall profit of their organization.

Check out more here: Money Study

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