Stanford Finds Link Between Stress, Time and Money


Stanford’s Graduate School of Business recently debuted new research from professor Jeffrey Pfeffer (no relation), Haas-Berkeley professor Dana R. Carney and UCLA Anderson School of Management professor Sanford DeVoe, which demonstrates the often harsh effects of time-money awareness can have on stress levels.

Their research illustrates how equating time with money “changes people’s decisions about volunteering time and trading off working more hours for more money.”

The trio conducted an experiment in which they paid 104 test subjects to work two hours at a fictitious company. “Both groups were guaranteed the same pay for the same two hours of work, but the first group proceeded with an upfront awareness of how much money they would earn per minute.”

At the beginning and end of the two-hour period, Carney and Pfeffer measured each subject’s cortisol level, which measures “a physiological indicator of stress.” The experiment uncovered that “people who think of time as money are generally more psychologically stressed,” with the time-is-money group measuring cortisol levels at a dangerously high 25 percent.

Pfeffer believes the results of this experiment are indicative of the way in which the increasingly global gig economy is evolving, in which workers increasingly piece together various income streams rather than a single 9-5 paycheck.

Pfeffer suggests employers “move toward annual salaries rather than hourly pay scales.” He adds, “We’re moving in the wrong direction in many ways. People are continually calculating the economic value of their time. And all the research shows that when people are thinking about time and money, they’re not enjoying their lives. They become impatient. They don’t enjoy music or sunsets.”


About the Author

Jonathan Pfeffer
Jonathan Pfeffer

Jonathan Pfeffer joined the Clear Admit and MetroMBA teams in 2015 after spending several years as an arts/culture writer, editor, and radio producer. In addition to his role as contributing writer at MetroMBA and contributing editor at Clear Admit, he is co-founder and lead producer of the Clear Admit MBA Admissions Podcast. He holds a BA in Film/Video, Ethnomusicology, and Media Studies from Oberlin College.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Your compare list