back to article Rich people cannot feel pain, don't care if they're liked

Being rich makes people invulnerable to pain and steels them against rejection by other people, according to researchers in China and America. In order to discover this, a group of student recruits at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou were split up into two groups. One was given a sheaf of crisp banknotes to count, the other …


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  1. stu 4
    Thumb Down

    Bang goes the theory

    Er.. so exactly the same experiment that was done on Bang goes the Theory a few weeks ago then.

  2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    How about that...

    I guess money really *does* buy happiness.

    The armni with the rolls of fifty quid notes in the pockets. And step on it!

  3. Ian 11

    So it's official then

    Any amount of bollocks counts as a scientific study worthy of media attention and that can be sold to subscribers.

    Time to setup my scientific paper subscription site I guess, article number 1: People who write papers for pay for sites are full of shit.

  4. Rod MacLean

    No-one tell Usama

    Since Usama Bin Laden is a member of one of the richest families in the world, he probably doesn't care that the USA hate him so much and have ostracised him.

    ...if/when the US special forces catch him, torture isn't going to work very well either!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    I think this makes sense. If I was a billionaire I wouldn't care what anyone else thought of me as I'd have enough money to take my mind off of things.

    Paris because she's rich and she doesn't seem to care what we say about her.

  6. Andy ORourke

    @ How about that......

    Can't remember who said it but I once heard that "those who say money can't buy you happiness just don't know where to shop"

    Always made me smile :-)

  7. Ian Ferguson

    Rich or happy?

    A bit of simple logic will tell you that these people made to 'feel rich' will feel happier as a result, and the people made to feel poor will feel less happy.

    A more obvious and scientific conclusion is that the happier you are, the less you are affected by pain.

  8. northern monkey


    "being (or feeling) rich means you care nothing for the opinions of others"

    So, Tories and Tory voters are selfish bastards concerned only with having their tax reduced since they've 'never got anything back from the system'. Nothing new here.

  9. The Indomitable Gall

    Richness or stimulation?

    I mean, shuffling decorated bits of paper is surely more stimulating than shuffling blank bits?

    Maybe bored people feel more pain.

  10. weirdcult
    Thumb Down


    I don't care if i'm can all f#ck off!.....ow i've just caught my finger in the space bar =[

  11. LucanUK
    Paris Hilton

    Another Theory

    So it has nothing to do with 90% of US notes have traces of cocaine?

    Handling all that money might have rubbed some off and intot he body! ;)

    Paris cause she knows what happens with those rolled up notes!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Money can't buy happiness

    You can be miserable in total comfort with sycophantic members of your preferred sex pandering to your every whim.

    Bluudy awful job, but someones got to do it.

  13. H 5
    Thumb Down

    Chopsticks Gene

    Surely people who arent afraid of taking risks are statistically more likely to be sucessfull ?

  14. EdwardP

    Isn't this a standard pavlovian reward response?

    99% of us have a pavlovian reward response to money: a dopamine release. Some of us have the same response to chocolate, some to other drugs. It's not even that surprising, given that the vast majority of us spend a lot of our time working toward a paycheck, if thats not Pavlovian then I don't know what is.

    Dopamine is a natural painkiller. I don't see anything groundbreaking about this research, the most interesting conclusion you could draw is that most people are "addicted" to money.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    @northern monkey

    Also interesting- when you've spent your life paying taxes, NI, etc (plus private health and dental care, i.e. only thing taken from the gov't is road maintenance that doesn't happen) and suddenly find yourself jobless- but ineligible for Jobseekers- you suddenly realise "Hey, I just got ripped off."

    If they'll cut my taxes, I'm voting Tory next election. Thanks for the heads up!

    Oh, and if you want to watch the same experiment without paying for it check out Bang Goes The Theory on iPlayer.

  16. Tom 15


    Am I the only one that automatically felt quite sad for a brief moment when they read about not having the ball thrown to them? Must remind me of my childhood...

  17. Bill 7

    Numbers please?

    The effect, however strong, is obviously not all-or-nothing...could you please post some numbers about how big it is? A 20% boost? 50%? 70%? Barely takes half a line more of text, and makes the article useful as well as entertaining.

  18. Sir Runcible Spoon


    Granted that feeling happier increases naturally occurring painkillers in the body, but what about the people who were made to feel unhappy being more sensitive to pain?

    It just goes to show that you should always break someone emotionally before embarking on pulling out their finger nails, preferably just after you've raided their wife and stolen their bank account.

  19. James Pickett


    This 'research' makes the rather large assumption that counting money is the same as owning it. Or were they giving it away, too? (In which case, the subjects with the blank bits of paper could justifiably have felt pissed off.)

  20. mwk

    nana nana nana nana


  21. Pete 2 Silver badge


    > Numbers please?

    It's sociology - they don't "do" numbers, or standard definitions, or equations, or proofs, or reproducible measurements.

    In fact, most of the time they can't even say how many variables their testing environment has.

  22. spork the other food

    Emotional detachment

    I read an article years ago dealing with psychopathy. They tested Executives in fortune 500 companies and found a higher level of psychopathy than in the general population. Not a big surprise most have little to no emotional or social stigmas prohibiting them from doing what they do to get where they are. The rest of you have social and emotional restrictions preventing you from doing what they do. That’s a good thing.

    If this study is correct Bank Tellers should be almost bullet proof and incapable of feeling….come to think of it.. that explains my bank tellers attitude this morning. Paralyzed from the neck up.

  23. Doug Southworth

    International Date Line

    Is it April first on the other side? I could never get the feel of how that thing works...

  24. SmallYellowFuzzyDuck, how pweety!

    Rich people can't drive either

    Have you noticed it's people in the biggest, most expensive cars that usually hog lane 3 regardless of how empty the other lanes are. Then when you try and get them to move over the bigger the car the less likely they are to move for you.

    Yeah, disgruntled biker here. Usually I end up undertaking them, I hate not being able to see beyond them and I don't feel safe in that situation.

  25. Rosco

    RE: Ian 11

    "Any amount of bollocks counts as a scientific study worthy of media attention and that can be sold to subscribers."

    Ah yes, the classic El Reg commenter stance of "anything involving social science is bollocks". Don't need to read it, it's just bollocks. Because the behaviour of people is not a phenomenon of the physical universe and therefore can't be studied ... or something ...

    What exactly makes this de facto bollocks? Is it that it doesn't fit your pre-conceptions? Or that it can't be immediately explained? It's true that the experiment could be flawed in some way but so can measurements of atomic particles yet people tend not to immediately think that of those types of experiments.

  26. adnim

    I would feel

    a little happier if the rich were just a little less psychopathic and a little more empathetic. In fact I believe the world would be a much better place.

    And yes, generally speaking, the bigger the car the more of a selfish c*nt the driver is likely to be,

  27. 4HiMarks


    Have you also noticed that the people who back into parking spaces tend to have giant trucks and SUVs that they don't know how to drive?

  28. Anonymous Coward

    I am willing

    to take part in a study to see the effect if I swap my antidepressants for fifty quid notes.

    Sponsors sign up here.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Its true!

    On occasion I buy things that will be paid for by other people, groceries, electrical appliances, etc. I get the pleasure of having bought them, and when I take them to the people who have requested them. I get paid for them. There is nothing like counting large piles of 20's to put a smile on my face, even though I have to put it straight into the bank to cover the original purchases. I'm rich by proxy...LOL

    Some say money can't buy you happiness or love, but it can sure as hell help you look for it......aaahhh ha ha ha.

  30. Steve Roper

    Cause and effect?

    Our society is so structured that in order to become rich you must first not care about other people, and above all that means you have to be a greedy, exploitative bastard who is prepared to get as much as you can while giving as little as possible. Otherwise, if you are the sort of person who helps others, shares your good fortune - by having such a nature you'll never be rich. Is it any surprise then that rich people are like this? It's not the money that makes people into sociopaths, it's that sociopaths are the ones who make the money!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This probably explains

    Why Batman was a billionaire

  32. Anonymous Coward

    money is like excesive force

    if it isnt working, your not using enough.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Big deal

    Big deal: humans are influenced by emotions <Shock! Horror!>

    When they feel low they are more inclined to one behaviour pattern.

    When they feel high they are more inclined to another behaviour pattern.

    So, the capable, ready and willing observer might ask, is the big deal?

    Nonetheless, people somewhere can (and should? nb: very big as in V-E-R-Y B-I-G moral question) use this phenomena.

    For example, if the poor feel rejected and motivated well make them rich, no problemo (or is it?)

  34. Sceptical Bastard

    Talking of Second Life ...

    Quote: "... tossing the cyber ball about, test subjects would then suddenly find that nobody would throw it to them any more"

    Bit like the feeling people get when they start inhabiting Sadville?

  35. Chris Miller

    Thought for the day (x2)

    The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the 'social sciences' is: some do, some don't. - Ernest Rutherford (Baron Rutherford of Nelson) 1871-1937

    Always remember that there are three things dollars cannot buy: happiness, the respect of your colleagues and the love of a good woman (of course, that's only true if we're talking Zimbabwean dollars ...)

  36. Sarah Davis
    IT Angle

    the exception being,...

    ... Bankers are rich but obviously not happy as no matter how rich they are or how big their bonuses they still keep stealing from everyone, and they complain if this is mentioned or at the suggestion they should pay back their ill-gotten bonuses and the money they stole.

  37. Steve Swann

    Nonsense, surely?

    Unless it was *their* money they were counting then the participants were not 'made to feel richer' because they were simply counting someone else's money.

    Also, where's the control? Where's the group who didn't count anything at all?

    We may as well draw the conclusion that touching patterned paper makes you happier and more tolerant of hot water than touching blank paper does.

    Utter rubbish, surely?

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ northern monkey

    of course your right, we all know that the whole economic system in underpinned by people working up north on minimum wage and having all their tax refunded through tax credits for each street urchin they begat!?

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Rich people are arrogant, as if I could care.

    More to the point, how crisp and fresh were the bank notes. Given that a lot of high denomination used notes have relatively large traces of cocaine on them maybe this could explain the lack of pain in the hands and the numbness of the emotions.

  40. EdwardP

    @Sir Runcible Spoon

    Nocebo effect? I think we may have been reading the same books :-)

    They're not sure but it's a fascinating topic, precursor chemicals detected in the brain have been isolated and attributed to the placebo and the nocebo effect, it isn't all fluff and bunnies, there's some real science in there.

    Half the anti-depressants on the market would NOT pass placebo testing today.

    You can take patients on courses high morphine and slowly lower them to a saline solution and if the patient is told he is still on morphine they will feel no pain, this seems to work on about 2/3 of people. Then, without telling them, you can push a dose of Naloxone (an opiate blocker) into that saline solution and they WILL FEEL PAIN once again.

    The jury is out on the placebo/nocebo effect, but it's fascinating stuff.

  41. Marvin the Martian

    Thanks for the link that works with a session cookie

    But no need to pay, you nonacademic plebs, you can grab a PDF copy from Vohs' publication list.

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