Can’t Buy Me Love (or Friendship): Social Consequences of Financially Contingent Self-Worth

Deborah E. Ward, Lora E. Park, Kristin Naragon-Gainey, Ashley V. Whillans, Han Young Jung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Although people may think that money improves one’s relationships, research suggests otherwise. Focusing on money is associated with spending less time maintaining relationships and less desire to rely on others for help. But why does focusing on money relate to worse social outcomes? We propose that when people base their self-esteem on financial success—that is, have financially contingent self-worth—they are likely to feel pressured to pursue success in this domain, which may come at the expense of spending time with close others. Consistent with this idea, results of four cross-sectional studies (N = 2,439) and a daily diary study (N = 246) revealed that basing one’s self-worth on financial success is associated with greater feelings of loneliness and social disconnection, and this may be related to experiencing less autonomy and spending less time with family and friends.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1665-1681
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


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