Wealth Psychologists: Money is a Problem

Folded Dollar

[Photo by EricGjerde]

It’s so hard to be rich nowadays that people need special help from ‘wealth psychologists’. Apparently one of the problems frequently faced by the rich is guilt. Along with this there’s the question of how to raise kids responsibly when almost anything is affordable. Financial management firms are now hiring their own in-house psychologists to help those rolling in piles of filthy lucre.

Reading this tale of woe I’m sure many of you are on the verge of tears on behalf of the wealthy. If so you better not read on as it may be too upsetting. According to ‘Wealth Legacy Group‘ some of the problems faced by the wealthy are:

  • Fear of being loved for their money rather than themselves.
  • Worry about how money will affect their level of intimacy in personal relationships.
  • Being nervous when others ask for a loan.

In all seriousness, of course, just having money doesn’t mean psychological problems evaporate. What it does mean is the wealthy have the cash to hire the services of psychologists, and so a form of ’boutique’ psychologist is born.

Inverting the problems above, though, produces a more serious list of complaints:

  • Fear of being hated for being poor.
  • Worry about how money will affect levels of intimacy in personal relationships.
  • Being nervous about asking for a loan.

Now there’s a list that’s easier to be sympathetic with.

Self-sufficiency

Either way money is a problem. Psychological research into money has found that when people are reminded about money they act in a more self-sufficient way (Vohs, Mead & Goode, 2006). They are then more likely to perform ‘socially insensitive’ actions, cutting themselves off from others.

Perhaps this is the greatest problem faced by people thinking about money, whether they are rich or poor: that they separate themselves from others through thinking selfishly. Even the super-rich need friends, or in the psychological terminology ‘social support’, and without it are likely to become miserable. A continuing focus on money serves only to cut us off from others.

Reference

Vohs, K. D., Mead, N. L., & Goode, M. R. (2006). The Psychological Consequences of Money. Science, 314(5802), 1154-1156. (Abstract)

About the author


Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". You can follow PsyBlog by email, by RSS feed, on Twitter and Google+.

Published: 10 October 2007

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