It's All About the Money (For Some): Consequences of Financially Contingent Self-Worth

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2017 May;43(5):601-622. doi: 10.1177/0146167216689080. Epub 2017 Feb 1.


Financial success is an important goal, yet striving for it is often associated with negative outcomes. One reason for this paradox is that financial pressures may be tied to basing self-worth on financial success. Studies 1a to 1c developed a measure of Financial Contingency of Self-Worth (Financial CSW), and found that it predicted more financial social comparisons, financial hassles, stress, anxiety, and less autonomy. In response to a financial (vs. academic) threat, higher Financial CSW participants experienced less autonomy, perceived financial problems more negatively, and disengaged from their financial problems (Study 2). When given an opportunity to self-affirm, however, Financial CSW participants did not show diminished autonomy in response to a financial (vs. academic) threat (Study 3). Finally, participants with higher Financial CSW were less likely to make extravagant spending decisions following a financial (vs. health) threat (Study 4). Together, these studies demonstrate the many consequences of staking self-worth on financial success.

Keywords: autonomy; contingencies of self-worth; decision making; materialism; money; well-being.

MeSH terms

  • Achievement*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income*
  • Male
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Perception
  • Young Adult