Why are people interested in money? Specifically, what could be the biological basis for the extraordinary incentive and reinforcing power of money, which seems to be unique to the human species? We identify two ways in which a commodity which is of no biological significance in itself can become a strong motivator. The first is if it is used as a tool, and by a metaphorical extension this is often applied to money: it is used instrumentally, in order to obtain (...) biologically relevant incentives. Second, substances can be strong motivators because they imitate the action of natural incentives but do not produce the fitness gains for which those incentives are instinctively sought. The classic examples of this process are psychoactive drugs, but we argue that the drug concept can also be extended metaphorically to provide an account of money motivation. From a review of theoretical and empirical literature about money, we conclude that (i) there are a number of phenomena that cannot be accounted for by a pure Tool Theory of money motivation; (ii) supplementing Tool Theory with a Drug Theory enables the anomalous phenomena to be explained; and (iii) the human instincts that, according to a Drug Theory, money parasitizes include trading (derived from reciprocal altruism) and object play. (Published Online April 5 2006) Key Words: economic behaviour; evolutionary psychology; giving; incentive; money; motivation; play; reciprocal altruism. (shrink)
From childhood through to adulthood, retirement and finally death, _The Economic Psychology of Everyday Life_ uniquely explores the economic problems all individuals have to solve across the course of their lives. Webley, Burgoyne, Lea and Young begin by introducing the concept of economic behaviour and its study. They then examine the main economic issues faced at each life stage, including: * the impact of advertising on children * buying a first house and setting up home * changing family roles and (...) gender-linked inequality * redundancy and unemployment * coping on a pension * obituaries, wills and inheritance. Finally they draw together the commonalties of economic problems across the lifespan, discuss generational and cultural changes in economic behaviour, and examine the significance of other, non-economic constraints, upon individuals. _The Economic Psychology of Everyday Life_ provides a much-needed comprehensive and accessible guide to economic psychology which will be of great interest to researchers and students. (shrink)
The comment addresses central issues of a "theory theory" approach as exemplified in Gopnik' and Goldman's BBS-articles. Gopnik, on the one hand, tries to demonstrate that empirical evidence from developmental psychology supports the view of a "theory theory" in which common sense beliefs are constructed to explain ourselves and others. Focusing the informational processing routes possibly involved we would like to argue that his main thesis (e.g. idea of intentionality as a cognitive construct) lacks support at least for two reasons: (...) one methodological and one structural. On the other hand, Goldman raises an important question when he is asking how people ascribe mental states to themselves. Reasons why Goldman's attempt to understand common sense mental representations by using an analogy from visual perception is problematic are discussed. The role which is attributed to a phenomenology is evaluated. (shrink)
Our response amplifies our case that money is best seen as both a drug and a tool. Some commentators challenge our core assumptions: In this response we, therefore, explain in more detail why we assume that money is an exceptionally strong motivator, and that a biological explanation of money motivation is required. We also provide evidence to support those assumptions. Other commentators criticise our use of the drug metaphor, particularly arguing that it is empirically empty; and in our response we (...) seek to show how it can be submitted to test – aided by some commentaries which suggest such tests. In addition, we explain, with evidence, why we do not think that the notion of money as a generalised conditioned reinforcer provides a satisfactory alternative to the tool/drug account. The largest group of commentaries suggests alternative instincts on which the drug-like effects of money might be based, other than the reciprocation and play instincts we propose; in our response, we explain why we still prefer our original proposals, but we accept that alternative or additional instincts may indeed underlie money motivation. A final group of commentaries carries the argument further, suggesting extensions to the tool/drug model, in ways with which we are broadly in sympathy. The purpose of the tool and drug metaphors is to encourage reflection on the biological origins of money motivation, and to that extent at least we believe that they have succeeded. (Published Online April 5 2006). (shrink)
Everyday financial behaviour involves inter-temporal choices, between saving, spending, and debt. Consumers do not always take these decisions to their best advantage. Ainslie's analysis of the means to willpower as suppression, resolve, and habit is potentially applicable to understanding and improving the decisions that consumers make. Some relevant research on these topics exists, and it is briefly reviewed here.
Human adults appear different from other animals in their ability to form abstract mental representations that go beyond perceptual similarity. In short, they can conceptualize the world. This book brings together leading psychologists and neuroscientists to tackle the age-old puzzle of what might be unique about human concepts.