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April 25 2013

People care about the source of cash, attach less value to ‘tainted’ wealth


It’s no accident that money obtained through dishonest or illegal means is called “dirty money.” A new study from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that when people perceive money as morally tainted, they also view it as having less value and purchasing power.

Challenging the belief that “all money is green,” and that people will cross ethical boundaries to amass it, social scientists from UC Berkeley and Stanford University have found compelling evidence that the source of wealth really does matter. In fact, some people avoid ill-gotten gains – such as profits from unfair labor practices or insider trading – for fear of “moral contagion,” according to a paper published this week in the online issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

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