Do you like luxury? Do you enjoy fine things? Silks? Furs? Fine exotic woods?

December 16, 2009

We in the VC biz are never short of reasons why we believe our portfolio companies should exercise tight control over cash and expenses, so it’s a rare treat when we discover a new one.  And since we are unselfish, we are happy to pass along the valuable nugget:  it’s good for your soul.

Luxury ate my morals

IF POWER corrupts, then what does luxury do?  In a new study, business school researchers find that it doesn’t take much for luxury to do its thing.  Students reviewed pictures of either luxury or nonluxury shoes and watches. Later, they were asked to evaluate several business scenarios from the perspective of a CEO.  Students who had been exposed to the luxury items were significantly more willing to produce a polluting car, sell buggy software, and sell a violence-inducing video game.  In addition, these students were also less likely to identify prosocial words in a letter scramble.  In other words, priming people with luxury makes them more selfish.  The authors wonder if managers make different decisions “at a luxury resort as opposed to a modest conference room.”

UPDATE: 05/11/10

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