steepholm (steepholm) wrote,
steepholm
steepholm

Talking 'bout You and Me, and the Games People Play...

As part of the discussion of the expenses scandal in parliament, there was an interesting interview with a behavioural psychologist on PM (I think it was) yesterday, about when and to what extent people could be expected to cheat in different situations. One point that got me thinking was the psychologist's finding that, in experiments, people were likely to fiddle the system far more if they were being paid in tokens (which could be exchanged for money) than if they were being paid in money itself. He also pointed out that many people would feel fine about raiding a few pens from the stationery cupboard at work, who would never dream of dipping their hand into the petty cash.

All true - but isn't it ironic, considering that money itself is just a token that we can exchange for actual things? Yet it apparently feels more real than the things themselves. Baudrillard, thou shouldst be living at this hour! Of course, part of the inhibition people feel about stealing money probably derives from the sense that if caught their punishment and shame will be greater than if they're just helping themselves to Post-It notes and Blu-Tak of equivalent value - but that merely pushes the question one step back, to why that should be so.
Tags: current affairs, maunderings
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