Money Heals All Wounds? Hardly

This episode of How to Lose Faith in Humanity is brought to you by Kathleen Vohs, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota, who just released study findings that suggest touching cash can suppress physical and emotional pain.

In her study, the control group was asked to count a stack of cash with the understanding they wouldn’t get any of it. Afterward, they were told to dip their hands in scolding hot water. The same was asked of a pilot group. You can guess the results; the control group described the experience as more painful than the pilot group did.

Vohs, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Business, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune,

“Having money blunts pain. Not having money heightens pain. And when you’re in pain, you want money.

Not to speak on behalf of the human race, but in my limited experience with pain — knock on wood — I’ve never been in the throes of agony and thought, Someone get me a $20! There’s so much blood! Cash! Now! Similarly, I’ve never witnessed an ambulance rolling up on a trauma victim, paramedics piling out only to make it rain in leiu of administering anesthesia.

You’ve got to believe Vohs’ study will be debunked within a week or two by someone who is, oh, I don’t know, maybe not an associate professor of marketing. How about an actual scientist? This nonsense wouldn’t score a ribbon at a fifth-grade science.

Vohs also told the Star Tribune,

“Think about workaholics. They’re driven by money. They’re able to withstand a lot of discomfort and pain. Think about people on a diet. They can be motivated by money.”

Could it be, Ms. Vohs, that workaholics don’t feel discomfort and pain because they are workaholics? The thing about being a workaholic is they’re addicted to work, they don’t feel uncomfortable and it’s not a painful experience. And if what you say of dieting is true, wouldn’t every clown on The Biggest Loser show a little more effort from the get-go?

Another stream of genius from Vohs:

“Say you’re stranded at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport because your flight has been delayed by 17 hours. You should be getting cold, hard cash instead of a voucher. … You won’t be all cranky and upset.”

I’ve been stuck in O’Hare for 17 hours. Overnight. I didn’t want a voucher or cold, hard cash. I wanted a flight home.

There’s preposterous and there’s totally asinine, but when I read money was spent to determine if money, itself, has healing powers, I find myself in need of a nap. Something things can be so exhaustively stupid.

I’m an advocate for research, but with cash-strapped public universities struggling across the nation — Minnesota being no exception — you have to wonder how someone can have the guile to bring such ridiculous, inconsequential findings to the public conscience.

Forget Vohs’ cash theory. I need an Advil.

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