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Author Topic: Money - You've got a hold on me  (Read 1333 times)
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« on: Mar 22, 2009 06:13 AM »

Asalaamu Alaikum  bro

One of those interesting science articles talking about addiction to money.

You’ve got a hold on me
Mark Buchanan
Last Updated: March 20. 2009 8:30AM UAE / March 20. 2009 4:30AM GMT

Dough, wonga, greenbacks, cash. Just words, you might say, but they carry an eerie psychological force. Chew them over for a few moments, and you will become a different person. Simply thinking about words associated with money seems to makes us more self-reliant and less inclined to help others. And it gets weirder: just handling cash can take the sting out of social rejection and even diminish physical pain.

This is all the stranger when you consider what money is supposed to be. For economists, it is nothing more than a tool of exchange that makes economic life more efficient. Yet money stirs up more passion, stress and envy than any axe or hammer ever could. We just cannot seem to deal with it rationally but why?

Even as a simple medium of exchange, money can take a bewildering variety of forms, from the strips of bark and feathers of old, through gold coins, pound notes and dollar bills, to data in a bank’s computer – mostly cold, unemotional stuff. The value of £100 is supposed to lie in how much milk or fuel it can purchase and nothing else. You should care no more about being shortchanged £5 at the supermarket checkout than losing the same amount when borrowing money to buy a £300,000 house. Similarly, you should value £10 in loose change the same as £10 in your bank account that you have mentally set aside for your niece’s birthday.

In reality we are not that rational. Instead of treating cash simply as a tool to be wielded with objective precision, we allow money to reach inside our heads and tap into the ancient emotional parts of our brain, often with unpredictable results. To understand how this affects our behaviour, some economists are starting to think more like evolutionary anthropologists.

Daniel Ariely of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of them. He suggests that modern society presents us with two distinct sets of behavioural rules. There are the social norms, which are “warm and fuzzy” and designed to foster long-term relationships, trust and co-operation. Then there is a set of market norms, which revolve around competition, and encourage individuals to put their own interests first.

Experiments published in 2007 by Kathleen Vohs in the department of marketing at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis reveal that even a passing contact with concepts linked to money puts us into a market-orientated mentality, making us think and behave in characteristic ways. Volunteers who had been primed with the money-related words worked on the task for longer before asking for help. In a related experiment, people in the money-word group were also significantly less likely to help a fellow student who asked for assistance than were people in the group primed with non-money words.

Now that the days of easy credit and rampant consumerism appear to be over, for the time being at least, it would be nice to think that we might acquire a more balanced relationship with money. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to be that simple. One reason why is exposed by Prof Vohs’s latest findings, to be published soon in the journal Psychological Science.

Prof Vohs and the psychologists Xinyue Zhou of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, and Roy Baumeister of Florida State University, Tallahassee, found that people who felt rejected by others, or were subjected to physical pain, were subsequently less likely to give a monetary gift in a game situation. The researchers then went on to show that just handling paper money could reduce the distress associated with social exclusion, and also diminish the physical pain caused by touching hot water.

The psychologists Stephen Lea at the University of Exeter, UK, and Paul Webley at the University of London believe that it acts on our minds rather like an addictive drug, giving it the power to drive some of us to compulsive gambling, overwork or obsessive behaviour “It is an interesting possibility that all these are manifestations of a broader addiction to money,” says Prof Lea. Compulsion appears to be a problem for people with several money-related disorders which are increasingly being identified by psychologists.

Profs Lea and Webley propose that money, like nicotine or cocaine, can activate the brain’s pleasure centres. There’s even evidence for the notion of ‘addiction’ to money in brain imaging studies. In one experiment, for example, a team led by Samuel McClure, at Princeton University, asked volunteers to choose between receiving a voucher for right then, or a higher-value one a few weeks later. Those who chose the instant reward showed brain activity in the areas linked with emotion, especially the limbic system, which is known to be involved in much impulsive behaviour and drug addiction. Those choosing the delayed reward showed activity in areas such as the prefrontal cortex known to be involved in rational planning.

The idea that money taps into brain circuits evolved to make biologically important activities rewarding is given a further boost by another strange discovery. In an attempt to provide an evolutionary explanation for our motivation to strive for money in present-day societies, Barbara Briers of the HEC business school in Paris, France, and colleagues decided to test whether our appetite for cash is related to our appetite for food.

Hungry volunteers were less likely to donate to charity than those who were satiated; those primed to have a high desire for money, by having imagined winning a big lottery, went on to eat the most sweets in a taste test; and people whose appetites had been piqued by sitting in a room with a delicious smell, gave less money in a game situation than those who played in a normal-smelling room.Briers reckons this indicates that our brain processes ideas about money using the same pathways evolved to think about food. If she is correct, it puts a whole new spin on the term ‘greedy bankers.’

As for the ever present question about whether money can make you happy, people with more money do tend to be happier – but only up to a point. That is the conclusion of the psychologists Ed Diener at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, who have reviewed numerous studies looking at the psychological effects of wealth. They report that money’s impact on happiness suffers from diminishing returns.

Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]
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« Reply #1 on: Mar 22, 2009 07:10 AM »

As for the ever present question about whether money can make you happy, people with more money do tend to be happier – but only up to a point.

I do believe that's true. You have less things to worry about or fight about in your marriage. Sometimes being able to feed your family or giving to sadaqah really can make one happy. One should always feel happy that Allah provides for them. May He always do so inshallah.  I hope I never have the feeling where I can't give Sadaqah, worst feeling in the world Sad

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2 [agree] or not 2 [disagree]-that is the question

« Reply #2 on: Mar 23, 2009 05:09 PM »

We have equated money with happiness and security.

Sometimes we choose jobs or work for higher pay because we believe that the higher pay will lead to greater things. Really what we are trying to find is financial security.

When have these higher pay jobs - it comes at a high cost to family and social life. Perhaps its necessary in the short term to achieve short term goals - but it comes at the cost of long term goals.

What point is it to have the larger material things in your life if you cant' enjoy it with those you love the most - this is especially true with men in our families - they work their butts off to provide for their family - which we are grateful for - but when the time comes to enjoy time with the family later on in life, the kids have probably have grown up and are probably starting their own families - and sometime during that time husbands and wives grow apart (because they are too busy trying to build a life by working long hours) - which is why we see a spike in divorces after 25 years of marriage...

The thing that we are really looking for is security not money - we need to stop equating money as the key to security or position as the barometer of success - our success is our legacy.

Yes, security comes from Allah (swt), and nothing in this life is secure - but the range of security is relative between different circumstances. Why did many people leave South Asia, middle east and other parts of the world to come to UK or North America? They left behind in many cases, good jobs, beautiful homes, big families, potentially drivers, cooks, maids, etc who helped with many of the things in their lives - to this?

What legacy are we leaving for future generations? Ours parents started with us, then masjids and schools - but now what? This is where our focus should be as we move forward, what will our legacy be?

Your heart will not truly open until you understand Surah 21 : Verse 92  (Al-Anbiya: The Prophets)

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