Pawing filthy cash leads to greedy, selfish actions — even cheating — while handling clean bills promotes good Scout behavior in the marketplace, according to research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
“In one experiment, the researchers asked participants to name their price: how much they’d have to be paid to perform various immoral acts like ‘stick a pin into the palm of a strange child’ or ‘cheat when playing cards with strangers.’ The dirty cash group showed the lowest moral standards, demanding less money for unfair and harmful acts than the clean money group,” Forbes contributor Sebastian Bailey says.
Researchers Qing Yang, Xiaochang Wu, Xinyue Zhou, Nichole L. Mead, Kathleen D. Vohs and Roy F. Baumeister conducted their studies at a Chinese farmers’ market and through economic games in a laboratory setting.
“The researchers speculated that dirty money acts as a subliminal prime towards dodgy dealing and ill-gotten gains. While clean money comes straight from the treasury and is associated with law and upstanding economic behaviour, filthy cash suggests an illicit past, and therefore triggers us to pursue selfish goals and unscrupulous gain,” Baily writes.
Of course, many of us barely handle cash, so the question then focuses on the moral implications of clean or dirty plastic cards…
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