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Money as tool, money as drug: The biological psychology of a strong incentive

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  • Martin Sewell
    Money as tool, money as drug: The biological psychology of a strong incentive Stephen E. G. Lea and Paul Webley Abstract: Why are people interested in money?
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 26, 2005
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      "Money as tool, money as drug: The biological psychology of a strong incentive"
      Stephen E. G. Lea and Paul Webley

      Abstract:
      Why are people interested in money? Specifically, what could be the
      biological basis for the extraordinary incentive and reinforcing power of
      money, which seems to be unique to the human species? We identify two ways
      in which a commodity which is of no biological significance in itself can
      become a strong motivator. The first is if it is used as a tool, and by a
      metaphorical extension this is often applied to money: it is used
      instrumentally, in order to obtain biologically relevant incentives.
      However substances can be strong motivators because they imitate the action
      of natural incentives but do not produce the fitness gains for which those
      incentives are instinctively sought. The classic examples of this process
      are psychoactive drugs, but we argue that the drug concept can also be
      extended metaphorically to provide an account of money motivation. From a
      review of theoretical and empirical literature about money, we conclude (i)
      that there are a number of phenomena that cannot be accounted for by a pure
      Tool Theory of money motivation; (ii) that supplementing it with a Drug
      Theory enables the anomalous phenomena to be explained; and (iii) that the
      human instincts that, according to a Drug Theory, money parasitizes include
      trading (derived from reciprocal altruism) and object play.

      Paper available from here:
      http://www.bbsonline.org/Preprints/Lea/Referees/

      Regards

      Martin
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