Does money change what we think is fair?

A study to be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, shows that when it comes to distributing resources, people’s ideas about what’s fair change depending on what’s being handed out. If it’s something that has its own intrinsic value — in-kind goods such as food or vacation days — people are more likely to see equal distribution of such items as fair.

But if it’s something that is only valuable when it’s exchanged — such as money or even credit card reward points — ideas of fairness shift to a more market-based attitude. In that case, the thinking is that people should receive according to what they’ve contributed.

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