How Thoughts of Money Lead Us Astray

The Wall Street Journal:

The New Year makes many of us think about time passing, and research shows that such thoughts often spur us to act more ethically. If we were to brood instead about the cash we’re likely to blow on Dec. 31, our actions might be less upright.

Two business professors from Harvard University and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania conducted experiments in which some people were primed to think about money and others about time. Then the participants were given the opportunity to cheat anonymously.

The results? Thinking about time led to much more honest behavior. That is in line with previous research showing that a focus on money raises self-interest, while a focus on time boosts generosity. But the new research also suggests that it isn’t necessarily money—or the love of it—that is the root of unethical behavior; the culprit, instead, seems to be the way thoughts of money suppress reflection

Read the whole story: The Wall Street Journal

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