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New Approach To Combat Melancholy

Occasional bouts of sadness or feeling down in the dumps are a normal experience. New research suggests a novel method to regain perspective.

According to an article recently published in Psychological Science, rather than counting our blessings, counting our money might be a more useful activity.

Psychologists Xinyue Zhou, Sun Yat-Sen University, Kathleen D. Vohs, University of Minnesota, and Roy F. Baumeister, Florida State University, investigated the psychological, physical and social impact of money.

To examine this, the researchers asked one group of participants to count out eighty $100 bills and another group to count eighty worthless pieces of paper. They then played a computerized ball-tossing game called Cyperball.

The participants were led to believe that they were playing with three other gamers when the other players in fact were computer generated. Some participants received the ball an equal amount of times while other participants were excluded. Out of the participants excluded in the Cyperball game, those who had counted the money rated lower social distress than those who only counted paper.

In another experiment, the scientists asked participants to immerse their fingers in hot water for 30 seconds after they counted either money or paper. Surprisingly, those counting money rated a lower intensity of the hot water and physical pain than those who counted paper.

In addition, the researchers found that participants who counted out the bills rated themselves as feeling “strong” more often than the paper counting group.

Adding a twist to the experiment, the scientists asked a group of participants to list their monetary expenditures from the past month and another group to list weather conditions in the past month. Both groups were then put through the Cyperball game and the physical pain test.

Those who thought about the weather rated normal amounts of social distress or pain; those thinking about their finances experienced higher social distress when they were left out of the Cyperball game and reported greater pain from the hot water.

As the psychologists concluded, “The mere idea of money has considerable psychological power, enough to alter reactions to social exclusion and even to physical pain.”

Source: Psychological Science

New Approach To Combat Melancholy

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). New Approach To Combat Melancholy. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 18, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2009/07/16/new-approach-to-combat-melancholy/7146.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.