60-Second Mind

Thinking about Time or Money Impacts How We Spend Our Days

Priming our mind with thoughts of time or money influences our future behavior. Christie Nicholson reports

A study published this week in the journal Psychological Science finds that priming our mind with thoughts of either time or money can have a very real impact our behavior. 

Subjects were asked to create sentences from random words. Some received words about time, like “clock” and “day.”   Others received words relating to money, like “wealth” and “price.” When asked how they were going to spend the next 24 hours, those who created the time-related sentences intended to hang out with friends.   And those who created the money-related sentences planned to work.


The researchers then tried this experiment at a local café. Results were the same: people who received the time words socialized, and those who received money words worked. Additionally, it was the socializing group who reported being happier than the worker bees.


Says the author, "There is so much discussion and focus on money…and the relationship between money and happiness. We're often ignoring the ultimately more important resource, which is time."


Benjamin Franklin might disagree. To quote his advice given to a young tradesman in 1748: Remember that time is money.   And Franklin, who thought a lot about money, felt that making money was time well spent.


—Christie Nicholson


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