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April 14, 2021

Touching money reduces effects of pain, study finds

“I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love.” – Paul McCartney, 1964

In a bid to derail any decency mankind still had left, a new study from the University of Minnesota apparently proves people are more materialistic than we’ve let on.

According to school researchers’ findings, handling money – literally, touching cash with your skin – reduces the effects of pain, both physical and emotional.

In a series of experiments, professors told, study participants reported feeling less pain having their hands dipped into scalding water when they were counting money.

Researchers had U of M students, under the premise they were participating in a finger-dexterity task, count out either 80 $100 bills or 80 slips of paper. Next, they had their hands dipped briefly into the hot water before being asked to relay how much pain the burning caused.

“When people are reminded of money in a subtle manner by counting out hard currency, they experience painful situations as being not very painful,” lead study author Kathleen Vohs said.

Similarly, while the experiments are too detailed to discuss here (scroll down to paragraph nine to read what went down), Vohs was able to conclude handling money can boost self-esteem, mood and other psychological measures.

“The study found that being reminded of money you don’t have makes pain worse,” writes Discovery’s Emily Sohn. “Reflecting on your shrunken (retirement fund), in other words, could make it more difficult to cope with stubbing a toe or failing to connect with others at a party.”

If this study’s findings sound like the most preposterous/secretly-accurate of the week, they’re not.

Australian researchers have concluded that kids – too young to even read – can already recognize logos for corporations like McDonald’s, Disney and Toyota.

So, next time you’re with some optimist claiming society, deep down, doesn’t care about money or material things, show them this. That should teach ‘em.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...