by Stephen Whitney

This content is part of a series.

Love of Money (18 of 40)
Series: Ecclesiastes
Stephen Whitney
Ecclesiastes 5:8-12

The 1996 comedy movie Jerry McGuire starred Tom Cruise as a sports agent who made contracts for professional atheletes. After suffering a nervous breakdown as a result of stress and a guilty conscience, he writes a mission statement about perceived dishonesty in the sports management business and how he believes that it should be operated. He distributes copies of it and his co-workers are touched by his honesty and greet him with applause, but the management decides to fire him.

In one scene Jerry speaks to Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), one of his clients who is disgruntled with his contract. Tidwell tests Jerry's resolve to be his agent through a very long telephone conversation, which culminates in the famous line, "Show Me the Money!"

He meant pay me the money, of course, but it turns out that merely showing people money can change their behavior. Kathleen Vohs, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota conducted a series of nine experiments in which people were asked to do puzzles or other tasks and the behavior of people exposed to money was compared to others who were not prompted to think about it. The two groups acted differently.

Vohs said, "The mere presence of money changes people. The effect can be negative, it can be positive. The exposure to money elevates a sense of self-sufficiency and can make people less social. For example a student with little money who wants to move to a new apartment get a bunch of friends together and they have a few laughs along the way. But once they get a good job they hired a mover. That may be more efficient, but they lose out on some personal moments.

In the early history of man people needed others to help them reach their goals. Eventually systems of exchange came along and then money, which could be exchanged for things, allowing people to pursue thei ...

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