A Nickel Ain't Worth a Dime Anymore : The Illusion of Money and the Rapid Encoding of Its True Value

Rongjun YU*, Yi HUANG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

People often evaluate money based on its face value and overlook its real purchasing power, known as the money illusion. For example, the same 100 Chinese Yuan can buy many more goods in Tibet than in Beijing, but such difference in buying power is usually underestimated. Using event related potential combined with a gambling task, we sought to investigate the encoding of both the real value and the face value of money in the human brain. We found that the self-reported pleasantness of outcomes was modulated by both values. The feedback related negativity (FRN), which peaks around 250ms after feedback and is believed to be generated in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), was only modulated by the true value but not the face value of money. We conclude that the real value of money is rapidly encoded in the human brain even when participants exhibit the money illusion at the behavioral level.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere55025
Number of pages8
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

The authors acknowledge the Foundation for High-level Talents in Higher Education of Guangdong (No. C10454) for financial support. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

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