Scientists have discovered that having money?and even just the IDEA of money?makes people selfish instead of generous, as we might hope it would. You wouldn’t think it would take a scientist to figure THAT out!
Psychologist Kathleen Vohs led a team that conducted experiments in which participants completed a number of tasks while being exposed to “play” money or pictures of money. The researchers found that those exposed to reminders of money worked longer on tasks before asking for help and were less helpful toward others. They also preferred to play alone, work alone and put more physical distance between themselves and a new acquaintance. Some of the psychologists involved in the study described this behavior as being self-sufficient more than being selfish.
“The self-sufficient pattern explains why people view money as both the greatest good and evil,” the authors concluded. “As countries and cultures developed, money may have allowed people to acquire goods and services that enabled the pursuit of cherished goals, which in turn diminished reliance on friends and family. In this way, money enhanced individualism but diminished communal motivations, an effect that is still apparent in people’s responses to money today.”
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