Traverse City Record-Eagle

Community News Network

January 20, 2014

Study: Money is addictive

WASHINGTON — There's a fundamental principle in economics that applies to food, clothing and even all those shiny tech gadgets that start with the letter "i": The more of them we have, the less we value them.

But that may not be true when it comes to money. New research from Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and his colleagues at the University of Toronto and Renmin University of China finds that the more money people make, the more they value it.

The research, published in the journal ILRReview, examined data from a longitudinal survey known as the British Household Panel Survey, as well the results from new experiments. Pfeffer and his colleagues calculated respondents' hourly income, as well as its growth over time, to separate money earned by actual work and money earned from other sources, such as investments. It then compared hourly earnings to respondents' views on how important it was to them to "have a lot of money."

"We thought it was quite possible that money was different because of its symbolic nature — when I pay you, I'm also signaling your worth," Pfeffer says.

And that's what they found. The more that people earned, the more they said money mattered to them. The same correlation was not true when it came to money made from sources unrelated to work. That kind of income, Pfeffer says, has "much less implication for one's sense of mastery or worth."

Pfeffer says the research provides implications for how chief executives and other workers are paid. When it comes to motivating employees, he thinks it's a reminder for managers to emphasize — instead of money — the organization's mission. He recalls the story of a human resource executive who spoke to his Stanford class about how his software company didn't give stock options — an idea that sounded like sacrilege in Silicon Valley. "He said, 'Look, a raise is only a raise for 30 days. After that, it's a salary.' "

Text Only

Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Associated Press Video
Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success Rory McIlroy struggles, surges, wins British Open NOW TRENDING: Real life Pac-Man Explosions as hot air balloon crashes in Clinton DUI Driver Dragged to Safety by Officer After Walking Onto Busy Freeway Celebrities That We'd Like to Send to the Moon Spectacular lightning storm hits London Malaysian Flight Victim Was South Florida Grad Rory McIlroy on pace to break British Open records Officials Fear MH17 Site Now Tampered by Rebels Lowes employees repair Vietnam vet's wheelchair Widow of Staten Island man who died after NYPD takedown says he was unjustifiably targeted