Too tired to focus on others? Reminders of money promote considerate responses in the face of depletion

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Mok, A 
de Cremer, D 

Purpose: Research has found that depletion of personal energy makes people self-centered. Thoughts of money also make people self-centered. We propose that reminding depleted individuals of money would in fact make them less self-centered and more other-oriented. We draw on evidence that money has potential to produce feelings of energy and that greater energy predicts more considerate behavior. We tested whether reminders (thoughts) of money reduce or counteract the selfish effects of depletion, promoting considerate responses.

Design/Methodology/Approach: Data were obtained through experiments conducted via the internet with working adult participants recruited in the USA and Hong Kong.

Findings: Depletion positively predicted self-centeredness, replicating previous research. As we hypothesized, thoughts of money (vs. money-neutral object) reduced or eliminated this effect. The mediating process was bolstered feelings of energy.

Implications: Organizational research has focused on showing how money in the form of compensation affects behavior. We provide a more nuanced understanding of the role of money in employee behavior. Reminders of money help employees feel energized in the face of depletion and in turn rein in selfish impulses. Our findings imply that when employees are drained, thoughts of money in general, even beyond the form of compensation, can provide strength to care about others besides the self.

ego-depletion, energy, money priming, self-regulation, self-centered behavior
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Journal of Business and Psychology
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