Money can't buy love, but if people hate you, they might not even take your money.
A new study shows that people would rather lose money than accept it from someone they dislike.
The European research found that if you have a low opinion of someone, you are more likely to reject their money. Although the financial offer may be attractive, the negative social information on the person influences the decision to decline it.
If people have a negative enough opinion of their potential benefactor, they might even be prepared to lose money instead of accept it.
The study, conducted by a team of researchers led by Celia Gaertig of the University of Granada (UGR) in Spain, was published in the journal Frontiers in Decision Neuroscience.
The researchers tested an economics-based game called the "Ultimatum Game" on 36 University of Granada students who were split into two groups.
Over a repeated series of trials, the participants were given a sum of money that they offered to divide with a partner. The offers ranged from fair (splitting 10 euros into 5 euros each), to unfair (splitting 10 euros into 9 for the benefactor and 1 for the recipient). Before each offer, the potential recipient was randomly given a positive or negative word linked to the morality or trustworthiness of their business partner.
Unlike previous studies on the Ultimatum Game, participants were playing with real money, and actually got to keep the amount of money they accepted.
The rational decision would be to accept any of the offers "since, although 1 euro out of 10 is unfair, it is still money," according to Maria Ruz of the UGR, who collaborated on the study.
However, most participants tended to reject the unfair offers, especially if their partners were associated with negative words- an apparent emotional reaction to injustice.
The researchers concluded that the opinions we have about the morality of the people around us affects whether we accept or reject the financial offers they make.
If we respect the other person, we are more likely to accept their money. If we disrespect or dislike the other person, we are more likely to reject it.
Previous research has shown that all sorts of social information biases people's decision-making when it comes to money. Positive and negative facial expressions, induced emotions unrelated to the task, and physical attractiveness and gender of the business partner can all throw off purely rational decision-making.
The researchers acknowledged the possibility that the study involved sums of money that were too small to overcome the participants' pride, and that larger amounts could have overcome the emotional satisfaction they felt from rejecting the money.
Still, the study's implications for the real world are clear. At least for relatively small amounts of money, people would rather reject an unfair deal from someone they don't like than give up the emotional satisfaction they would lose from accepting it.
Money makes the world go round, but it helps to be nice to the people you're doing business with.
Published by Medicaldaily.com