Dunc-Tank and Money

Like Biellla, I have been following from afar the controversy [1,2] associated with the dunc-tank project: a way for a few Debian developers to accept donations. The moderate amount of money (appreciated nonetheless I’m sure) caused an extraordinary ruckus among other volunteers, leading to protest and resignations.

How is it that money can be so divisive? The study Biella points to  suggests that even ambient reminders of money (what psychologists call “priming”) can lead to “antisocialness.” Subtly reminding subjects of money or high affluence (e.g., descrambling a sentence about a high salary, exposure to a poster or screensaver of currency, seeing a big pile of Monopoly Money) led them to be more “self-sufficient,” that is less likely to ask or provide help, less likely to donate to a cause, to arrange chairs further apart, and to prefer singular activity to collaboration and social recreation (Vohs, Mead and Goode 2006).

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