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Money, moral transgressions, and blame

Xie, W., Yu, B., Zhou, X., Sedikides, C. and Vohs, K.D. (2014) Money, moral transgressions, and blame Journal of Consumer Psychology, 24, (3), pp. 299-306.

Record type: Article


Two experiments tested participants' attributions for others' immoral behaviors when conducted for more versus less money. We hypothesized and found that observers would blame wrongdoers more when seeing a transgression enacted for little rather than a lot of money, and that this would be evident in observers' hand-washing behavior. Experiment 1 used a cognitive dissonance paradigm. Participants (N = 160) observed a confederate lie in exchange for either a relatively large or a small monetary payment. Participants blamed the liar more in the small (versus large) money condition. Participants (N = 184) in Experiment 2 saw images of someone knocking over another to obtain a small, medium, or large monetary sum. In the small (versus large) money condition, participants blamed the perpetrator (money) more. Hence, participants assigned less blame to moral wrong-doers, if the latter enacted their deed to obtain relatively large sums of money. Small amounts of money accentuate the immorality of others' transgressions.

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e-pub ahead of print date: 12 December 2013
Published date: July 2014
Keywords: money, morality, cognitive dissonance, attribution, blame, contagion


Local EPrints ID: 366730
ISSN: 1057-7408
PURE UUID: 2033a498-59a5-4435-bad0-e0f332cb6c90

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Date deposited: 08 Jul 2014 10:49
Last modified: 30 Aug 2017 12:16

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Author: W. Xie
Author: B. Yu
Author: X. Zhou
Author: C. Sedikides
Author: K.D. Vohs

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