Money and relationships: When and why thinking about money leads people to approach others

Fei Teng, Zhansheng Chen, Kai Tak Poon, Denghao Zhang, Yuwei Jiang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Monetary reminders have been shown to discourage people from affiliating with others. We proposed such an effect can be reversed when others are instrumental to people's goals. Results from four experiments converged to support our proposition. We found that thinking about money increased people's focus on the instrumentality aspects of others (Experiment 1). In a goal pursuit context, monetary reminders increased people's tendency to approach others who were instrumental to achieving their goals (Experiment 2). The effect of money prime on approaching others was dismissed or reversed when people were highly competent in achieving the goal themselves (Experiment 3) and when the instrumentality of others was ambiguous (Experiment 4). Moreover, these effects were driven by the perceived instrumentality of others (Experiments 2–4). Taken together, our findings suggest that thinking about money leads to an instrumentality orientation in social interactions, which changes how people view relationships and how they interact with others.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-70
Number of pages13
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • Instrumentality
  • Interpersonal relationship
  • Market-pricing mindset
  • Money

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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