06-01-2021 | Original Article
How emotional is a banknote? The affective basis of money perception
Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research | Uitgave 8/2021Log in om toegang te krijgen
Previous studies have shown that money possesses affective properties even when it is not at stake within a given task. Smaller economic values are generally perceived as less arousing and neutral in valence, whereas larger ones are perceived as more arousing and positive in valence. Moreover, numerical cognitive processes seem to be less prominent than affective ones in the way we perceive economic values. To shed light on the basic affective components of monetary values, we ran three experiments on the perception of banknotes to test (i) whether banknotes with different values (5€ and 100€) trigger different emotional states, (ii) if values are horizontally mapped based on their valence, rather than on their numerical magnitude, and (iii) whether the lateralized sight (in the left or right visual field) of a positive (higher) monetary value interferes with the classification of a negative stimulus. Results showed a coherent pattern that corroborates the idea that money is indeed an affective stimulus, even when it is not at stake within the task. A higher monetary value was shown (i) to have intrinsic rewarding properties that influence the evaluation of a subsequent target, (ii) to be mentally mapped on the right side, which is related to positive approaching of affective stimuli in right-handers, and (iii) to be in conflict with negative-withdrawing targets, but only when the values were presented on the right-positive side of respondents. Results are discussed considering existing theories of the psychological value of money, highlighting the hedonic characteristics of this special affective stimulus.