Does money affect our thoughts and behavior?

Below is a short summary of a new study I published with my collaborators in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. In this study we combined the results of dozens of studies investigating how money may affect our thoughts, emotions and behaviors, including the results of 100 unpublished experiments. Overall, this influence of money appeared to be important. However, these results should be interpreted carefully because published studies showed much larger effects than unpublished studies, a phenomenon called publication bias.

A Comprehensive Meta-analysis of Money Priming

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Research on money priming typically investigates whether exposure to money-related stimuli
can affect people’s thoughts, feelings, motivations and behaviors. Our study answers the call for a comprehensive meta-analysis examining the available evidence on money priming. By conducting a systematic search of published and unpublished literature on money priming, we sought to achieve three key goals. First, we aimed to assess the presence of biases in the available published literature (e.g., publication bias). Second, in the case of such biases, we sought to derive a more accurate estimate of the effect size after correcting for these biases. Third, we aimed to investigate whether design factors such as prime type and study setting moderated the money priming effects. Our overall meta-analysis included 246 suitable experiments and showed a significant overall effect size estimate (Hedges’ g = .31, 95%CI = [0.26, 0.36]). However, publication bias and related biases are likely given the asymmetric funnel plots, Egger’s test and two other tests for publication bias. Moderator analyses offered insight into the variation of the money priming effect, suggesting for various types of study designs whether the effect was present, absent, or biased. We found the largest money priming effect in lab studies investigating a behavioral dependent measure using a priming technique in which participants actively handled money. Future research should use sufficiently powerful pre-registered studies to replicate these findings.

Lodder, P., Ong, H. H., Grasman, R. P., & Wicherts, J. (2019). A comprehensive meta-analysis of money priming. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Click here to download the preprint