Does money make you selfish?

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Published on August 24, 2014 with No Comments

Right there in the King James version of the Holy Bible, in Timothy, it says, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” Along the way this has been incorrectly shortened to say, “Money is the root of all evil.” It is also commonly said that wealth divides people while poverty unites people – which is subject to discussion. In reality, those who study money and behavior have discovered that in the course of seeking money, people become selfish, uncaring and alienated from others. A study at the University of Minnesota in 2008 showed that when people in the study were reminded of money they were very good at pursuing goals but their sensitivity to others declined. Of course these same traits might apply to the pursuit of fame, power and love affairs with mighty people, but those weren’t in the study.

Such findings might be an argument for that other famous argument: Money can’t buy you happiness. But it turns out that those who make a decent income that covers their needs, with some left over for their wants, are happier than those who don’t have enough money to guarantee food and shelter. Once the basics are covered, money becomes a relative thing. Someone with a middle-class income, who lives in a neighborhood of wealthy people, feels poor and becomes envious. Meanwhile, those who spend their extra money “buying” experiences are happier than those who spend it acquiring possessions. Another of those famous studies showed that when people were “given” a windfall, they were happier if they spent it cautiously or gave it away than if they splurged on themselves. Ultimately, just about everyone agrees that money is necessary but not sufficient to buy happiness.

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