Thinking of Money Can Affect Our Morals

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

It is a facade that we are moral people.  People are only as moral as their options.  We find it easy to judge politicians and business leaders for their less than moral character, and questionable humanity.  People forget that these are people, with normal weaknesses, and in the right circumstances, we are equally culpable.  That line between hero and villain is incredibly fine.

In 2013, researchers conducted a series of four studies on how the mere thought of money could affect our morality.  This was published as “Seeing Green: Mere Exposure to Money Triggers a Business Decision Frame and Unethical Outcomes”.

In summary, when participants were subconsciously exposed to money-related words, this affected their decision making.  They viewed every subsequent decision immediately after this in a cost-benefit frame of thinking, specific to their perspective.  This caused them to make morally questionable decisions, even for small gains.  They lied, they deceived.  It is speculated, that this would accelerate with time.  When we consider how people of wealth and privilege behave, we discover that the Biblical proverb, “The love of money is the root of all evil”, is far more true than we realise.

In a separate study, “Time, Money, and Morality”, which was a joint study by Harvard Business School, and The Wharton School, from the University of Pennsylvania, it was discovered that when people thought about time, and the ephemeralness of this world, this triggered morality.  When we consider time, we consider the consequences of our actions, and the legacy we leave behind.

In this, we discover that science has proven some of the oldest lessons of religion.  As the Sufis have said in a thousand different sayings, the remembrance of death keeps us virtuous.  This is one of the reasons Sayyidina ‘Ali ibn Abi Thalib (k.w.) said we should die before we die.


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