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September 20, 2021

Drooling for dollars more than a simple expression: Study

It's not just your imagination. Thinking about money or fast cars does make your mouth water, says David Gal, an assistant professor of marketing at Northwestern University.

Car How much a person actually salivates while thinking about the good life seems to depend on their mindset at the time.

In a recent experiment, Gal randomly divided his subjects into two groups: one that felt powerless (they had to write essays about a time they had no control) and one that felt powerful (they wrote about being on top of their game).

When he exposed the subjects to various pictures, those shown pictures of money began to drool. This was especially true in those remembering the times they felt they weren’t really in control.

Gal then went at it again, except with a smaller group of male undergraduates who had been primed to think about attractive women and the prospect of dating them. This time he showed the guys pictures of expensive sports cars.

Once again, the drool thing started again. Men who thought about fast cars had far more spit in their mouth than those who thought about their chances with fast women. 

For Gal, the findings suggest that thinking about money and luxury goods activates the same neurological reward system as thinking about more basic urges like food or mating.

The research also supports the idea that that shopping and gambling “addictions,” are close physiological cousins to more insidious substance addictions, Gal suggests.

Have you found yourself wiping your lips at the prospect of your dream car or a lottery win? 

By Gordon Powers, 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...

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...