Semenov M. Euro, Dollar, Ruble, and Love

Semenov M. Euro, Dollar, Ruble and Love is the poster for IAREP 2012 Conference

Introduction. People’s attitude toward money is commonly measured in psychological research either at the conscious level as the attitude, or as an incentive in the context of activities. We propose a new approach for the measurement of the attitude toward money, which combines psycho-physiological reaction to money compared to the responses to other significant incentives. Classical Russian literature (e.g., Dostoevsky, F.M., Ostrovsky, A.N.), repeatedly described a conflict between love and money as a struggle of two opposite types of incentives. Following this tradition, operationalized feeling of love as a biological and social stimulus was used as a control variable for the attitude toward money.

Goal. To compare psycho-physiological reactions to different rates of monetary and love-related incentives.

Method. Participants: 22 female students of Omsk State Technical University 19-20 years

Procedure. The measurement of psycho-physiological variables was performed using a polygraph. The participants were presented by six incentives in order: €100 (~4000 rubles) $100 (~ 3000 rubles), 5000 rubles, a photo of naked man, a photo of a famous actor, a blank sheet of A6 paper. Each stimulus was presented three times. The following psycho-physiological reactions were measured: galvanic skin response (GSR), respiration rate (RR), and heart rate (HR). We believed that the more pronounced was the psycho-physiological response to a stimulus, the greater the subjective importance of this stimulus possessed.

Psycho-physiological reactions to the neutral stimulus (a blank sheet of paper) were considered to be the base value and were assigned the value of zero. The maximum possible response to a stimulus was set to 4. The reactions to all other stimuli were assigned values of 1, 2, 3 or 4, according to the magnitude of the reaction and regardless of the direction of the reaction.

Results. In a pilot study the reaction to a photo of a naked man was incomparably stronger, so it was decided to eliminate this incentive from the study. The reaction to a photo of famous actor was comparable with the reaction to money and a little bit weaker than the reaction to foreign currency.

Table 1. The mean values of responses to stimuli (min 1, max 4)

The reaction to the incentive in euro was the strongest. Subjects reported that the euro was the most attractive incentive, because the bill was the largest, beautiful and pleasant to the touch. Despite higher denomination, 5000 rubles bill had less attraction for the subjects. This suggests that the existing unconscious attitude toward rubles is economically irrational.

If Euros and dollars are converted into rubles at the current exchange rate and their objective and subjective values are compared, the subjective value of the dollar equivalent units will be twice the value of the ruble, the euro — by 1.7 times. It can be assumed that the subjects rated money as objects rather than as a means of payment.

All in all, biological stimuli produce much more significant physiological reaction in comparison with the social and monetary incentives. It appears that physical attractiveness  is comparable to the value of money for young female students; therefore, the dilemma of «Money vs Love» is still relevant for young adults, and in a social context money often “win” over love.



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