The personal application paper


Besides being a medium of exchange, money is an absolute measure that affects what people do, how they carry themselves and what other people think about them. To most people, money is related to happiness hence they work hard every day in pursuit of it. There are various cues related to people’s behavior of seeking money such as the rewards attached and individual differences as far as money is concerned. These cues are believed to motivate and change people’s behaviors consciously and unconsciously. After reading the text, I realized that I need to change in different areas of life, a step that will help me live a more fulfilling lifestyle.

I will be more dedicated and persistent in my journey to reach my education goals. Capa & Ruud (2014) stated that the smallest information about our goals is usually stored in the memory. The memory stores our objectives and also the ways we formulate to achieve the goals and the environment in which we aim to achieve the goals. Cues in the environment that we live in influence our conscious states and makes the goals more accessible. In my case, cues in the environment such as schools, students, and teachers will influence my cognitions and drive me into achieving my goal.

I will also improve my interactions with people since I have learned that the positive affect related to a behavioral state motivates people to engage in certain activities. This will be possible through relating with people I like having a company with. Such people are predictable and will most likely appreciate my company hence I will not feel out of place. Zedelius, Harm & Henk, 2010) observed that the cognitive information associated with the representation of a goal and the positive affect related to the state acts as the reward that determines individual motivation to the resulting behavior. In this case, my relationship with close friends will be motivated by their reward of their warm behavior towards me.

I will use the money cues in the environment as a reward that can motivate my pursuit of more money. Capa & Ruud (2014) argued that the unconscious processing of money can change the cognitive task performance. Though the methods designed to get money are difficult to follow, I will be looking forward to the eventual reward which is to get money since the non-conscious processing of money involves more mental effort and perseverance to obtain positive outcomes. These mental efforts are focused on making the best plan that will bring in the best money reward at the end (Zedelious, Veling & Aarts, 2011).

I will change my thought patterns pertaining rewards if I have the hope of being rewarded at the end of the task. Capa & Ruud (2014) noted that rewards could lead people to be hyper-responsive to reward cues hence concentrate too much on the task at hand which impairs performance. Impaired performance is just the downside of concentrating too much on the reward cues hoping to get good money reward at the end. This indicates that when a conscious reward is on the way, the brain fine-tunes the executive functions required to perform the task and offers the processing resources needed to keep the executive functions going until the end of the activity.

This indicates that the intense desire to gain a reward is coupled with the compensatory behavior of hanging around the activity until it is finished and the reward dispatched (Zedelious, Veling & Aarts, 2011). It also shows that unconscious and conscious monetary rewards produce a general allocation of effort on the cognitive system. It also indicates that the manipulation of task switching is usually successful and that the switch is related to a cognitive process that is different from the one involved in the execution of a task. It is however shocking to realize that both conscious and unconscious rewards are affected by the preparatory efforts during the task. When people are very alert since they want to complete a specific high rewarding task, a larger amount of working memory is used during the performance of the task (Bijleveld, Ruud & Henk, 2011).

In addition, I will use subliminal stimuli to obtain monetary rewards. This is about using building associations between a conscious money reward and behavior without taking into account the state of awareness at the time (Bijleveld, Ruud & Henk, 2011). This shows that the urge to obtain money will occur even in my unconscious states. Perceptual learning results from exposure to a subliminal stimulus without necessarily paying attention to any task at hand. As such, my pursuit of money will occur even at the times that I am not attentive to what I am doing. The desire to get money that will be happening in both conscious and unconscious states and will drive me towards getting more money. The need to obtain money can also result in making biased decisions since getting money is the utmost goal. Even without conscious processing of contextual cues, people can learn their reward value and portray bias in decision making (Zedelious, Harm & Ruud, 2014).

I will also change my perceptions about the amount of energy and resources I use to get money. Capa & Ruud (2014) observed that unconscious processing of money could change the cognitive task performance. The same region in the basal forebrain is used in both subliminal and supraliminal reward condition. When the effects of both conscious and unconscious monetary rewards are tested on an easy and a difficult memory task, pupil dilation occurs in the difficult work as opposed to the easy work. This portrays that people use the optimum energy necessary to achieve a conscious goal when performing an easy task while they strive to achieve the highest performance level they can to ensure goal attainment when pursuing difficult goals. This indicates that both conscious and unconscious incentive processes improve the effort used in specific activities in a similar way (Zedelious, Harm & Ruud, 2014).

I will also be able to make strategic choices when reward attainment is concerned. Capa & Ruud (2014) stated that high subliminal rewards leads to faster performance and doing the job keenly while supraliminal high rewards make people more cautious and slower in their performance. Nevertheless, though slow, they deliver high performance. Research states that people’s initial response to rewards is conducted in the rudimentary, subcortical brain structures. The striatum, a cerebral structure in the brain does not need consciousness to process information. This processing can foster the performance of tasks directly by facilitating the use of effort in the attainment of the reward. The initial processing of rewards needs little input of perception and does not require the person to be conscious (Dijksterhuis et al. 2005).

Capa and Ruud (2014) observed that when people are aware of the rewards they are set to get, the rewards may undergo full processing. Such an event which the brain structures that help in higher level cognitive functioning in the frontal brain and the rudimentary structures used in the initial functioning of the reward such as the anterior cingulate cortex, medial prefrontal cortex, and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. These brain structures are involved in cognitive functioning activities such as decision making, maintenance of reward information and executive control. As such, experiencing full reward processing leads people to choose the strategy to take during rewards.  This indicates that the quality of task performance is determined by the effort used thus the initial and full processing of money may foster the portrayal of such behaviors (Bijleveld, Ruud & Henk, 2011).

This reading also prompted me to change my way of thinking about money. I was shocked to learn of the relativity of money and the fact that its value is not calculated on its absolute value but a comparison standard. Capa and Ruud (2014) argued that the utility of money is not linearly related to its sum since each unit of money possessed does not provide an equal amount of additional utility. Monetary units provide a diminishing marginal utility since each additional unit increases its utility less than the previous unit. The utility of money outcomes is evaluated by the final state of wealth that these outcomes produce.

The outcomes of money are evaluated on the change they produce psychologically (Dijksterhuis et al. 2005). Example; when one person loses 100 dollars in a 200 dollar investment, he will be stressed as opposed to the person who invested one dollar and now has 100 dollars. The former person would evaluate the outcome and term it as a loss while the latter individual would be happy that he gained 99 dollars on his investment which is profit. The loss aversion perspective states that the slope of the utility function is steeper for losses than for gains hence a loss of 100 dollars would have a greater negative psychological impact than the positive feelings after a gain of 100 dollars. The hedonic impact states that monetary loss or gain depends on the reference point that it is compared to (Zedelious, Harm & Ruud, 2014).

I will also change the way I compare my income with that of my close friends. The notion of experienced utility explains the actual pleasure and pain that is derived from experiences. Reference dependence states that self-reported happiness results from the way people compare their incomes relative to that of their close associates (Capa & Ruud, 2014). This indicates that people’s happiness is not necessarily pegged on their absolute income but by the income that other peoples get as compared to theirs. As such, people living in rich neighborhoods are mostly unhappy as compared to people earning similar incomes living in poor areas. Also, people are more sensitive to relative rather than absolute money values since individuals think that the amount of money they earn relative to their friends will affect them more than the absolute amount of money they earn. Individuals report that they would rather get a lower absolute income but earn more than their friends. In fact, people are usually ready to sacrifice an amount of their income provided it is higher than that of their peers (Zedelius, Harm & Henk, 2010).

This indicates that people are not comfortable when their peers are earning more than them. This is asserted by the realization that the social wellbeing is not positively affected by people’s high incomes (Capa & Ruud, 2014). Example; the wellbeing of the Japanese society did not increase after the World War II even after the fivefold increase in per capita income. People are also insensitive to the absolute losses they avoid in the form of discounts. Promotions have a strong effect on buyer behavior than the actual amount of money reduced per item. During promotions, buyers are mostly interested in the items offered for sale than the amount of money they save after the purchase.

I have realized why people are insensitive to the absolute value of money. Capa & Ruud (2014) states that this insensitivity results from the fact that money has no intrinsic value and or infinite range. Money is an artificial medium whose value is aligned to the agreement among the members of the society. Money is a secondary reinforcer since its value is defined by virtue of the things one can purchase while with it, and which cannot be purchased without money. The value of money is only there because people have agreed that it is of value (Dijksterhuis et al. 2005). When a society decides to switch to another currency, the original money loses its value. People have difficulty assessing the subjectivity of money since it is considered an artificial medium. However, when the subjective utility of money is established, people can assess the subjective utility of the different values money brings. On the fact that money has no infinite range, using an infinite range to evaluate a stimulus is better than using an infinite range to evaluate money. In an infinite range, it is not possible to compare a specific value to an infinite larger or smaller value or to express the differences between the values of an infinite range. As such, monetary losses and gains are not evaluated on one scale but are measured using different subscales (Zedelius, Harm & Henk, 2010).

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  1. Bijleveld, E. Ruud, C. and Henk, A. (2011). Once the Money is in Sight: Distinctive Effects of Conscious and Unconscious rewards on Task Performance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 47: 865- 869.
  2. Capa, R. L. and Ruud, C. (2014). Conscious and Unconscious Influences of Money: Two Sides of the Same Coin. In. E. Bijleveld and Aarts (eds). The Psychological Science of Money. Doi: 10.1007/978- 1-4938-0959-9-4. Springer Science Plus Business Media, New York, 2014.
  3. Dijksterhuis, A., Pamela, K. S., Rick, B. V. B. and Daniel, H. J. W. (2005). The Unconscious Consumer: Effects of Environment on Consumer Behavior. Journal of Consumer Psychology. 15(3): 193- 202.
  4. Zedelius, C. M., Harm, V. and Henk, A. (2010). Boosting or Chocking: How Conscious and Unconscious Reward Processing Modulate the Active Maintenance of Goal Relevant Information. Consciousness and Cognition. 30: 1- 8.
  5. Zedelious, C. M, Veling, H. and Aarts, H. (2011). Beware the Reward: How Conscious Processing of Rewards impairs Active Maintenance Performance. Consciousness and Cognition. 20: 366- 367.
  6. Zedelious, C. M., Harm, V. and Ruud, C. (2014). A New Perspective on Human Reward Research: How Consciously and Unconsciously Perceived Reward Information Influences Performance. Cognitive Affect Behavior Neuroscience. 14: 493- 508.
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