Academic IELTS Reading Sample 219 - The Psychology of Wealth

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 27- 40, which are based on Passage 219 below.

The Psychology of Wealth

What stops people from succeeding financially and having on-going prosperity in their life? The answer is generally focused around the belief that financial success is not a possibility. There are many people who have unconscious barriers that prevent them from having the wealth and abundance that they deserve.

At a conscious level, most people think they are doing everything possible to achieve their goals. However, there still might be some unwitting part of them that does not believe they can obtain success. The more that unconscious part is avoided, the more a person will be blocked in their everyday life. Another problem is that, instead of focusing on all the possible ways to get rich, many people have an obsession about what they do not have. An interesting pattern develops in which they can become angry or resentful over their situation and this, in turn, can limit these people in their lives more and more. Individuals would find it so much easier to get ahead in life with a peaceful state of mind, rather than an angry or resentful one.

A first step in understanding the unconscious patterning of a person’s financial situation is to explore the deeper nature of how they represent money. For example, a person with money issues may have had parents who lived in poverty, and they subsequently formed a ‘Depression Era’ mentality. An unconscious belief can develop that he or she will always have to struggle financially, because that is what their parents did. Alternatively, the person might have had a parent tell them over and over again that they will never be successful, and eventually they begin to believe it.

It is very common for children to unconsciously form limiting beliefs around money at an early age. In the field of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), these types of limiting beliefs are referred to as ‘imprints.’ An imprint is basically a memory that is formed at an early age, and can serve as a root for both the limiting and empowering beliefs that people form as children. Some of the beliefs that people may develop at early ages are not always healthy, and are created as a result of a traumatic or confusing experience that they have forgotten. How we unconsciously and consciously view the world in terms of money is often based on such beliefs.

A primary and fundamental psychological difference between those who do well financially and those who do not revolves around beliefs. For example, many people do not even view financial success as an option. They do not have the capability to open themselves up to all of the possibilities that are available for achieving prosperity and they will nearly always get stuck in a monthly routine, so that they are unwilling to take risks or try something different, because they are afraid that they will end up being even worse off than before.

Another issue can be that people become over-absorbed with the idea of making money and this can be extremely unhealthy. Money does not determine who you are; it’s simply a resource. There is a term called ‘affluenza,’ which has been defined as “a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.” Affluenza is an unsustainable and seriously unhealthy addiction to personal and societal economic growth. It is most acute in those who inherit wealth and seem to have no purpose or direction. For those with wealth or for those who desire it more than anything, abandoning the urge for more can often be the key to being more successful, and certainly happier. Once people stop equating their self-worth with money, then the doors of possibility can swing open for them, because they are willing to try more things. Once they start feeling better about themselves, they become less fearful and can be open to trying something completely different.

So, can money make people happy? Research shows that it does up to a point, after which there are diminishing returns, so that the extremely wealthy are no happier than the comfortably well off. Rich nations are generally happier than poor ones, but the relationship is far from consistent; other factors like political stability, freedom and security also play a part. Research likewise shows that the money-happiness connection seems to be stronger for people paid hourly than those on a salary. This is presumably because salaried people can more easily compensate with career satisfaction. Money can also impair the ability to enjoy the simple things in life, which rather offsets the happiness that wealth brings.

Money can also impair people’s satisfaction in their play and humanitarian works. When someone has done something out of the goodness of their heart, they can be insulted by offers of payment. Cognitive dissonance experiments show that paying people derisory amounts of money for their work results in them enjoying it less and doing it less well than if they had no pay at all. The capacity for monetary reward to undermine a person’s intrinsic pleasure in work performance has been demonstrated neurologically.

In conclusion, people need to realise that their own attitudes to wealth can affect their chances of acquiring both money and happiness. As a person begins to embrace self worth and opens himself or herself up to the idea of what is possible, he or she will attract wealth and prosperity into their life. The outer world is truly a reflection of people’s inner worlds. If someone feels good inside, generally it will show on the outside and they will draw positive experiences into their life.

Questions 27-29

Complete the notes below.

Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 27-29 on your answer sheet. 

  • Some people unwittingly reject the prospect of becoming rich; these 27.................... stop them from financial success.
  • Most people believe they do the best they can, but sometimes they don’t really believe in their potential.
  • If people do not face up to this lack of self-belief, they’ll encounter more and more obstacles.
  • People can also have an 28.................... about their lack of possessions.
  • Anger is a result, which hinders their progress as well.
  • People whose parents were poor may feel they will also be poor.
  • A 29.................... who is always negative about a child’s prospects may also be eventually believed.

Questions 30-34

Do the following statements agree with the views of the writer of the text?

In boxes 30-34 on your answer sheet write:

YES               if the statement agrees with the writer’s views
NO                 if the statement doesn’t agree with the writer’s views
NOT GIVEN    if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

30. A person can develop unhelpful imprints about money when a child.

31. Although important, belief is not a key part of whether someone can become financially successful.

32. Those people stuck in a monthly routine are the most likely to try something different.

33. The problem of ‘affluenza’ has been in the media a lot recently.

34. ‘Affluenza’ is more common in people who have not had to work for their money


Questions 35-40

Complete the summary below.

Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the text for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 35-40 on your answer sheet.

Money and Happiness

(35) .................... mean people are not happier with wealth beyond a certain amount. Rich countries are happier than poor ones, but this is simplistic, due to other relevant (36) .................... . Salaried workers have been shown to be happier than wage-paid workers, maybe due to (37) .................... . Rich people also sometimes do not enjoy life’s (38) .................... .

Money can also relate to how people approach doing things and (39) .................... have proved this. The complex relationship between a (40) .................... and enjoyment of work has also been proved.

Changing their attitudes to wealth can make some people happier and allow them to acquire money more easily.


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