When You Want to Feel No Pain, Grab Hold of Some Cash

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The next time you feel the need to pop an Aspirin or down a stiff drink, you might want to consider another remedy to numb the pain: rifling through some greenbacks.

Consumer psychologist Kathleen Vohs, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, who in the past has expounded on theories such as how a little self-affirmation can help you avoid impulse shopping purchases, now presents research that demonstrates how cash can reduce physical and emotional pain:

In her study, Vohs had one group of subjects count cash and another slips of paper. Soon after, she asked all the subjects to dip their hands in very hot water and rate the pain they felt. Those who had just counted cash rated their pain as significantly less than those who counted the paper.

In a related study, cash counters who were later shunned by others while playing a computer game felt less excluded than those who counted the slips of paper.

“In both of those experiments, we found that when people were reminded of money, otherwise painful events were not so painful,” Vohs says. “It’s a robust and very strong finding.”

Where could these findings have application? Maybe at a place people are already going to dull their pain: bars.

Vohs, in the name of creative solutions for all segments of society, thinks the pain-relieving qualities of money might even be of benefit to a single male on the make in the dating world.

“We’ve been toying with the idea of giving men lots of cold, hard cash to handle before going into the nightlife scene, to soften some of the stings of social rejection that will occur when they’re out on the prowl,” Vohs says, smiling. “So, there are lots of different ways you can think about handling money and pain.”

I don’t know. Handling cash that’s soon taken away? For a single guy out looking for some action, this seems like it would be one more tease, another bit of frustration to add to the pile. And, well, if that’s the case, it’s a good thing you’re at a bar, where more traditional liquid painkillers are on tap.

Watch here as Kathleen Vohs discusses her findings, and where else it might make sense for cash to be incorporated to mitigate pain. Perhaps in the doctor’s office, or at a hospital?

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