Blog: Emotional currency: The psychological power of money

Compensation & Benefits

Emotional currency: The psychological power of money

Money, apart from its physical power of influencing ours and others lives, has a larger psychological impact. Lets assess and transform our emotional relationship with money.
Emotional currency: The psychological power of money

With the new fiscal year 2017-18 and the appraisal results for most of us being announced or already announced, how many of us are acknowledging the glimpse of the realities- our performance at work, the perks associated with it and most important the salary increment and the bonus pay. In a nutshell, it centres around the driver of the perceived success in life- Money! While it intersects with our inner and outer lives, it exemplifies the potency of being as one of the crucial traits of being human in this decade.

Let’s begin with understanding and exploring our relationship with money. What have been your experiences while managing money? Who has influenced your beliefs and attitudes about money? How did you respond emotionally to the experiences with money? What keeps you up at night? What do you avoid dealing with? What do you like about money? Once assured in our own relationship with money, we can begin to grasp the fine lines of other people's realities. Money’s no different than other emotional areas in our lives. 

Here are some aspects about the psychology of money and its perceived power.

Money alone can’t buy happiness and love

We often tend to seek money and power in our pursuit of success, but is it getting in the way of the things that really matter: Happiness and love. Happiness is personified by our overall well-being- physical and psychological. While wealth determines our physical well-being, it never can assure of a better mental well-being. A higher income can take care of our needs and relieve the strains, but it doesn’t always ensure mental satisfaction. For a psychological well-being, the question is how much is too much?

High income, less empathy?

A generalized perception, but a fact that wealthier people are not able to understand the not so fortunate. Studies have shown that our emotional relationship with our financial status often leads to subconscious arrogance, which is perceived as an apathetic attitude towards others. Just like any other emotional factor, a wealthier person is vulnerable to judgments. So, the fortunate ones are expected to align their beliefs and attitude towards money.

Money is likely to cloud moral judgments

Psychological studies reveal that in this decade, wealth may cause a sense of moral entitlement. For example, where traffic laws demand that cars stop at crosswalks for pedestrians to pass, drivers of luxury cars are comparatively less likely than those in less expensive vehicles to stop and allow pedestrians the right of way. Research studies show that even if we are well intentioned, even if we are conscious enough to distinguish right from wrong, there may be a couple of factors influencing our decisions and behaviors that we may not be aware of.

Is money accumulation an addiction?

More often than not, the compulsive need to acquire money is a compulsive behavior classified as “behavioral addiction”, as suggested by Psychologist Dr. Tian Dayton. In this case, an addiction to the good feeling that comes from acquiring money or possessions can often lead to negative consequences and harm the individual's psychological well-being.

Coming to terms with your feelings for money

Have you ever wondered what shapes your relationship with money? Self-worth, a sense of abundance or deprivation, financial stability, autonomy or dependency, envy, greed- all these behaviors are aspects of who we are as each of them has different impacts on all of us. These factors shape how we think about money and how it relates to our lives. The deeper we reflect on our own behaviors, particularly in these areas, the healthier our relationship with money becomes. Why are we envious of others? Why are we greedy? What about our self-worth? Is money a significant source of stress for you? 

Assess and transform your relationship with money

Do you want to improve your relationship with money and its psychological power? Are you keen towards setting your relationship with others right as money ‘matters’? Let’s do a quick self-assessment to find out our relationship with money. 

Given below are 7 statements which you might often experience in your daily life. Please rate yourself on a scale of 5 ranging from 1 to 5, 1 being ‘the least probability of experience’ and 5 being the highest probability of experience. If it does not apply to you, please rate ‘0’ for that statements.

  1. I am committed to doing whatever it takes to create personal and financial freedom.

  2. I'm a master at finding opportunities.

  3. My work is fun, helps people, and makes me a lot of money.

  4. I easily and consistently earn what I am worth.

  5. I am open to discussing my income and life goals, and my plan to get there.

  6. I know my life purpose, and I’m living it.

  7. I feel understood and respected by the people in my life.

Please add the responses to all the 7 statements. If your aggregate score is 28 or above, it seems that you have a great relationship with money. Congratulations and keep going! However, if your score is below 28, it is high time to transform your relationship with money and achieve the psychological power. Go, get it!

Harnessing the emotional currency at workplace

As the employees have become increasingly more critical to the overall success of their organizations, what they need and expect in exchange for their work has also profoundly changed. Money alone no longer inspires performance as it once did. Are you curious to know what inspires the employees the most and how can workplace leadership harness the power of the emotional currency? Keep looking for the next blog on “Harness the emotional currency at workplace”.


Dr Kate Levinson

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the viewpoint of People Matters.

Read full story

Topics: Compensation & Benefits, Employee Relations

Did you find this story helpful?



How do you envision AI transforming your work?