The Effects of Money Priming on Support of Government Programmes
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Money helps people gain access to the goods and services they require and it allows people to make choices without having dependence on others (Boucher & Kofos, 2012). Prior research has shown that when the concept of money is activated, participants behave in a less pro-social but a more self-sufficient way in that while they are less likely to offer help to others or to donate money, they make more effort to complete a task and they prefer to work alone rather than to work collectively with others (Vohs, Mead & Goode, 2006). In this study, we examined the effect of money activation on the level of support for government goods and services programmes as a function of the type of programmes (welfare related or universal) and the participantʼs socioeconomic position (higher or lower). All participants performed a memory task before completing a government goods and services survey. The memory task consisted of either money-related words (for the money primed group) or neutral words not associated with money (for the control group). The results show that relative to the participants in the control group, those primed with money had lower levels of support for government programmes, and the effect was stronger for welfare related compared with universal programmes. No significant interaction between priming and socioeconomic status was found, although there was a trend that activating the concept of money had a larger effect for the higher socioeconomic group compared with the lower socioeconomic group. These results provided converging evidence to previous research that activating the concept of money could change peopleʼs attitudes and behaviours, inducing them to become less sensitive to othersʼ needs. Our results also extend the findings of prior research to the valuation of existing government programmes. They suggest that money activation could lower peopleʼs support for social policies, resulting in unintended consequences.