Thursday, November 6, 2008

Department of Duh: Focus on Money Makes People Assholes

A study in Science makes the case that just getting people to focus on money makes them less cooperative and more individualistic. As Bob Sutton of Work Matters summarizes:
Compared to control subjects, those primed to focus on money:
  1. Were less likely to ask others for help
  2. Less likely to give others help
  3. Preferred to work alone
  4. Preferred to play alone
  5. Put more physical distance between themselves as a new acquaintance
I wonder if this sets money-centric people to fail in collective action type problems: A situation in which everyone (in a given group) has a choice between two alternatives and where, if everyone involved chooses the alternative act that is Individualistically Rational (IR), the outcome will be worse for everyone involved, in their own estimation, than it would be if they were all to choose the other alternative (i.e., than it would be if they were all to choose the alternative that is not IR). This is a real problem libertarian friends of mine have never seemed capable of absorbing. Hmmm.

No comments: