How the brain perceives money

"Russia is unprofitable to be economical": the therapist Pavel Beschastnov about how the brain perceives money.

«Life is a game and money is the way to keep score"once said the founder of CNN, an American businessman Ted Turner. Money itself has long ceased to be only a measure of the value of the goods: the income of a person is to make assumptions about his success, the qualities of character and even appeal to sexual partners. So there is money from the point of view of the psyche?

Known psychotherapist Pavel Beschastnov told about how the financial strategy will depend on the type of personality, can we talk about specific "Russian" attitude to money, preventing whether the artist thought about the benefits and how it will affect the motivation to work the introduction of an unconditional basic income.

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— How exactly does the money have to do with motivation?

Our compensation system is reformable, and she doesn't care for that tune. In addition to the simple hedonistic pleasures like sex and good food (although everything is flexible: any Bushman could not assess the Tartar or tiramisu), it can react to more abstract incentives, which are tied more complex social emotions — shame, pride, ego, embarrassment, guilt and so on.

Money is the universal unit of reward, we all grow up in a culture in which much is measured through the level of income, therefore on the attractiveness of money commensurate with biochemical ways of having fun. A striking example — the gambling (I don't mean computer games, and gambling).

It is not yet recognized officially as a mental disorder, although this is being actively discussed (in the diagnostic manual DSM-V it is in the application of potential disorders).

— How is it caused?

— In mechanics it is very similar to chemical dependency, drugs or alcohol. All gamers lose more often than win (otherwise it wouldn't be a problem), and this does not stop them. But they continue to play not so much for money as for the possibility of winning. And then there is a bug called "effect" depositor — when a person is inclined to maintain the status quo and not change the strategy, even if it becomes unprofitable.

But why is it not a pity to lose your money?

— If the result of the game was predictable, the players would work cognitive bias called "loss aversion": we usually prefer a clear loss of a possible win. But pending a major acquisition seriously pereshibaet of anxiety and excitement.

Therefore, different Scam is underway and people are cautious, anxious, have an aversion to losses. Usually they with difficulty are going to some softer changes, such as leave for a new job, a career change — there are risks, but the possible gain is significantly higher: conventionally, you could lose 15% of income and win 30.

In this case, the risk, of course, advantageous, but people in such situations tend to keep what they already have. But when the scale of the proposed rewards are immense and exceed all possible risks, people are willing to try. In this work, all the pyramids, loans, Scam, gambling, business training, and more or less stable income for long distances is not reciprocated.

On the other hand, is the opposite of the legend — that big wins are a myth, you just have to work long and hard. But one labour does not help — it is necessary and reasonable to behave, to choose the right strategy effort.

— Why are some people indifferent to money and the other fixated on them?

American psychiatrist Robert Cloninger proposed a theory that defines identity through a genetically determined predisposition to certain reactions to stimuli. There are four key indicators. The first — dependence on rewards. People that are dependent on the remuneration, have an increased need to promote, they are more emotional, social, and it's harder for them to cope with short-term temptations.

Second — search behavior: how vividly people react to new incentives. People with high novelty search more impulsive, it is easier to indulge their desires and prone to unwarranted spending.

The third factor is avoidant behavior. It shows how people tend to exercise caution and avoid risk.

The fourth is perseverance: the ability to consistently carry out any type of behavior. No matter good or bad, helpful or harmful — relatively, how much a person is willing to break the same door, to implement the same behavior pattern. People with low persistence easily stop the activity, if you do not get fast satisfaction: they do not have the patience to wait for deferred rewards.


"Now in Russia is unprofitable to be industrious, economical, "penny to penny" and tedious to build a career in the hope of a reward in the future — no guarantees it does not»


All of these categories is neither good nor bad, they have their pluses and minuses, and they affect the attitude of Finance. This model binds all the factors for neurotransmitters: a search behavior to dopamine, avoiding to serotonin, dependence on reward — endorphin, and perseverance to acetylcholine. Then he draws a little behind the ears, the direct neurobiological seems too naive, but is a convenient working model.

— There is a persistent myth that Russians in General do not tend to respect money and private property, saying that historically the wealth in our country is associated with the theft. If there's truth to that or is it a stereotype?

I'm sure it's a stereotype. In every generation people tend from the local immediate historical reality to draw any conclusions, but reasoning about the mentality — it's pure self-justification, the mentality is changing in either direction depending on conditions.

The fact that the economic condition of the country still leaves much to be desired, due to the fact that we had no Protestant morality, and the Germans, it is. During New time the Germans were example of drunken, violent, stupid redneck, and sophisticated intellectuals, advanced in complex technologies, it was believed by the Italians.

At this time, the Italians invented banking system, architecture and more, and the Germans meanwhile in the Thirty years war cut each other. And now Germany — a sample order, and Italians are usually seen as relaxed Hedonists. Or, for example, North and South Korea — the same people showing different patterns of behavior.

I am sure that in our national character there is nothing special, no everlasting slavery of the people, our history is not much better and not much worse than any other story. The problem is that now in Russia is unprofitable to be industrious, economical, "penny to penny" and tedious to build a career in the hope of a reward in the future — no guarantees it makes.

Therefore most people act pragmatically and adapt to environmental circumstances. We have a risk-free strategy very little to bring, and there is no particular sense to follow them.

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Also it is widely believed that the person creative profession, should not think about the profits that a real artist is above that. How the thought of money can really recapture your inspiration from?

— I suspect that everything is happening exactly the opposite way: first, creative people have no money, and then there are the explanations why they are not. Either prove otherwise, or show me the many people who have creative success, but refuse it from any higher considerations. Such cases occur, but more often "misunderstood artists".

— Here we can recall Dostoevsky, who wrote only in advance and in record time.

— There are people who refuse to do pop music or to do for the amusement of the audience, and they can understand. But it's good when you have a choice when you can be successful in what you like. Can be considered justified, the division priorities at the level of "the cash of the interesting" or "most interesting out of the money", but do not oppose profit and inspiration.

All the theories about what the artist must be a disinterested, add — ins, made in hindsight: people believe what suits them to believe. Personally I am skeptical of the ideology of the unrecognized genius, because history shows that if a person does something outstanding, his contemporaries recognized, no matter how strange it may be.

His contemporaries knew about Pushkin that he is the sun of Russian poetry, his contemporaries knew about Shakespeare that he is a genius. Of course, there were exceptions like van Gogh, but they are usually concerned artists with a very specific mentality.


"For the comfortable existence of a person enough to know that he lives better than most of his entourage, log in 10-15% of people with highest income»


— And if the person is a Perelman, a peaceful scholar who has talent, but he doesn't know how to monetize it? Where should he begin to develop this skill?

Usually the person is difficult to change without a good reason, rather, he adapts, if he was forced life — for example, if the wife of the scientist threatens to leave him and order her to stay, he is ready to learn to earn. But there is another solution: you can try to give this skill to outsource and find someone who will look for ways to capitalize on your talents. For example, the wife of the scientist can take monetization into their own hands, negotiate with investors or publishers, to steer the process.

— Recently in Switzerland discussed the idea of unconditional basic income, but she still refused. As such a guarantee would affect the motivation of people to work?

In such a situation, people will stop working. A small percentage will do something uplifting to do, but mostly we are lazy monkeys, and if you give us bananas, we just going to lie on sofa and do nothing. If there is no reward, the motivation drops.

Not the fact that it's bad — after all, society exists for people, not people to society, and if generation can afford to just spend all the resources accumulated by the ancestors, then why not. It's quite a position, has the right to exist. But all the socialist experiments with the software a little, but financial stability didn't end well — as in the USSR, and in modern States.

Studies show that welfare does not make people much happier. Why is money so hard to motivate us, but I am not such a big satisfaction when we receive them?

— Money — a conventional meter. In itself, the possession of the quality of life particularly increases. Of course, better with them than without them, and you can transform them into some nice pieces, but it only matters to a certain threshold.

For comfortable existence of a person enough to know that he lives better than most of his entourage, log in 10-15% of people with highest income. Additional work beyond that already play no special role. Why is this happening? In General the mechanics of the reward system can be divided into two components — motivation ("want") and hedonistic ("like").


Tell me how you were born, and I'll tell you how you live

As we pull on other people's problems


The first reflects our desire and needs, and the second directly fun all we pleased. And money is much stronger affect us on the principle of "want" than on the principle of "like", they are likely to evoke the pursuit of happiness, than provide it.

Author: Pavel Beschastnov P. S. And remember, only by changing their consumption — together we change the world! ©



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