Mere exposure to money increases endorsement of free-market systems and social inequality

J Exp Psychol Gen. 2013 May;142(2):301-6. doi: 10.1037/a0029288. Epub 2012 Jul 9.

Abstract

The present research tested whether incidental exposure to money affects people's endorsement of social systems that legitimize social inequality. We found that subtle reminders of the concept of money, relative to nonmoney concepts, led participants to endorse more strongly the existing social system in the United States in general (Experiment 1) and free-market capitalism in particular (Experiment 4), to assert more strongly that victims deserve their fate (Experiment 2), and to believe more strongly that socially advantaged groups should dominate socially disadvantaged groups (Experiment 3). We further found that reminders of money increased preference for a free-market system of organ transplants that benefited the wealthy at the expense of the poor even though this was not the prevailing system (Experiment 5) and that this effect was moderated by participants' nationality. These results demonstrate how merely thinking about money can influence beliefs about the social order and the extent to which people deserve their station in life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Capitalism*
  • Culture*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States