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Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Psychology of Money

By Adrian Furnham

Professor of Psychology

1. Money as Security

The Compulsive Saver

For them saving is its own reward. They tax themselves and no amount of money saved is sufficient to provide enough security.

The Self-denier

Self-deniers tend to be savers but enjoy the self-sacrificial nature of self- imposed poverty. They may spend money on others, to emphasize their martyrdom. Psychoanalysts point out that their behaviour is often a disguise for envy, hostility and resentment towards those who are better off.

The Fanatical Collector

Obsessed collectors accumulate all sorts of things, some without much intrinsic value. They turn to material possessions rather than humans as potential sources of affection and security.

The Compulsive Bargain Hunter

Money is fanatically retained until the situation is “ideal” and then joyfully given over. The thrill is in out-smarting others – both those selling and those paying the full price.

2. Money as Power

The Manipulator

These people use money to exploit others’ vanity and greed. Manipulating others makes this type feel less helpless and frustrated. Their greatest long-time loss is integrity.

The Empire builder

They have (or appear to have) an overriding sense of independence and self-reliance. Repressing or denying their own dependency needs, they may try to make others dependent on them. Many inevitably become isolated and alienated, particularly in their declining years.

The Godfather

They have more money to bribe and control so as to feel dominant. They often hide an anger and a great over-sensitivity to being humiliated – hence the importance of public respect. But because they buy loyalty and devotion they tend to attract the weak and insecure. They destroy initiative and independence in others and are left surrounded by second-rate sycophants.

3. Money as Love

The Love Buyer

Many attempt to buy love and respect: those who visit prostitutes; those who feel unloved not unlovable and avoid feelings of rejection and worthlessness by pleasing others with their generosity.

The Love Seller

They promise affection, devotion and endearment for inflating others’ ego. They can feign all sorts of responses and are quite naturally attracted to love buyers.

The Love Stealer

The kleptomaniac is not an indiscriminate thief but one who seeks out objects of symbolic value to them. They are hungry for love but don’t feel they deserve it.

4. Money as Freedom

The Freedom Buyers

Money buys escape from orders, commands, even suggestions that appear to restrict autonomy and limit independence. They want independence not love : in fact, they repress and hence have a strong fear of dependency urges.

The Freedom Fighters

They reject money and materialism as the cause of enslavement of many. Frequently political radicals, drop-outs or technocrats, they are often passive-aggressive and attempt to resolve internal conflicts and confused values. Camaraderie and companionship are the main rewards for joining the anti- money forces.



I am more towards Money as Freedom - The Freedom Buyer and hope that soon I will have enough money to buy enough freedom and free myself from the Rat Race.


  1. Hi CW8888,
    Yes. money has no intrinsic value. Only human has.
    So how a person use money, will expose his values.
    Money can free you from the rat race if you mean working for your rice bowl is true.
    But how to escape from the rats?
    I think we can only truly "escape" if we can internalize the idea of Security or Financial Freedom or Prosperity is not a number. So is Happiness.
    I am just beginning to try to internalize the above idea, and I think have to keep on practicing till the end of my life.

  2. Thanks for the post CW8888!

    It clarifies how I use or view money. Very interesting reading - although it's not pleasant knowing what category I belong to - truth hurts.....

    I am amazed and impressed with your wide range of knowledge!


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