Money’s Other Purpose: Easing Our Fear of Death

In an experiment, people who had been counting money indicated a lower fear of death than people who had been counting slips of white paper -- about 5.3 versus 6.5 on a zero-to-12 scale, says a team led by Tomasz Zaleskiewicz of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw. Moreover, people's estimates of the sizes of coins were an average of 34% larger if they had been primed to think about mortality, presumably because thoughts of death intensify the subjective value attributed to money. People seem to desire money in part because it has the power to soothe fears of death, the researchers say.

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