People Think “Dirty Money” Has Less Value and Purchasing Power

Study finds most people do care where the money they spend comes from

A team of researchers writing in this week's issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science say that most people are very much preoccupied with where the money they get to spend comes from.

More precisely, it appears that regular Joes and Janes typically attach less value and purchasing power to money labeled as dirty (i.e. obtained through means that either go against moral values or are altogether illegal).

One of the experiments that led the researchers to the conclusion that most people really do try to put some distance between themselves and dirty money came down to asking 59 volunteers to enter a raffle for a $50 (about €38.4) prize, EurekAlert says.

Half of the participants to this experiment were told that the $50 prize was provided by retail giant Target, whereas the others were told that Walmart was the company giving out the prize money.

The researchers also made sure that the volunteers belonging to the second group had access to information concerning a 2005 lawsuit accusing Walmart of having failed to meet internationally mandated labor standards.

Apparently, the people who worked on the assumption that their prize money was offered by Walmart filled out fewer raffle tickets than the ones who believed the $50 was provided by Target.

When asked to detail what they would buy with their prize money, the volunteers belonging to the Walmart group reportedly listed fewer items than the ones belonging to the Target group.

Because of this, the researchers concluded that people are less interested in getting their hands on what they assume to be dirty money, and that they believe tainted wealth has less purchasing power.

“Our work suggests morality is an important force shaping economic decision-making,” study lead author Jennifer Stellar commented on the findings of these experiments.

“Though we often think $50 is $50, these results demonstrate that when money takes on negative moral associations, its value is diminished,” the researcher further elaborated on the matter at hand.

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