Organization Behavior

The Meaning of Money Revisited Author(s): Thomas Li-Ping Tang Source: Journal of Organizational Behavior, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Mar., 1992), pp. 197-202 Published by: John Wiley & Sons Stable URL: Accessed: 23/12/2009 15:15

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Research The meaning of money revisited Note

THOMAS LI-PING TANG Department of Psychology, Middle Tennessee State University, U.S. A.


Money has significant impacts on people’s motivation and their work-related behavior in organi- zations (Lawler, 1981; Opsahl and Dunnette, 1966; Whyte, 1955). However, money isn’t every- thing and its meaning is ‘in the eye of the beholder’ (McClelland, 1967, p. 10). To some, money is a motivator (e.g. Lawler, 1981). Herzberg, Mausner and Snyderman (1959), however, stated that money is a hygiene factor.

Furnham (1984) suggested that there is a dearth of empirical research concerning the meaning of money. In the literature, five (cf. Yamauchi and Templer, 1982) to seven (cf Wernimont and Fitzpatrick, 1972) separate factors on the meaning of money were identified. However, the available research has very limited application to the field of organizational behavior.

The major purpose of the present study was to develop the Money Ethic Scale (MES). Items were generated based on the following research: money as related to different needs (e.g. Maslow, 1954), positive or negative attitudes towards money (Wernimont and Fitzpatrick, 1972), the management or control of money (Furnham, 1984), obsession, and power (Furnham, 1984; Yamauchi and Templer, 1982). The following factors were predicted for the Money Ethic Scale (MES): positive attitudes, negative (evil) attitudes, achievement, power, management of money, and self-esteem.

The present study also examined the initial nomological network of the scale. The hypotheses derived from this nomological network were tested. First, younger people were less security- minded than older people who in turn believe that money is a function of their effort and ability (Furnham, 1984). Hypothesis 1 predicts that age will be positively associated with the management of money. Furnham (1984) also found that females were more conservative and security-conscious than males. Hypothesis 2 predicts that sex (females) will be associated with the management of money. ‘Income is used to judge success’ (Rubenstein, 1981, p. 34). Hypothe- sis 3 predicts that income will be related to achievement.

Second, the Protestant Ethic (PE) (Mirels and Garrett, 1971) was associated with conservative attitudes (Furnham and Bland, 1983), saving and hoarding money, and ‘time is money’ (Weber, 1958). PE was also correlated with guilt (Mirels and Garrett, 1971). Hypothesis 4 predicts that the PE will be correlated with the management of money and the negative (evil) attitudes. The Leisure Ethic Scale (LE) (Crandall and Slivken, 1980) was negatively correlated with PE

The present research was supported by a Faculty Research Grant from Middle Tennessee State University. The author would like to thank J. Y. Tzeng, C. F. Haefele, L. S. Robeson, M. T. Talpade, and H. B. Glenn for data coding, and Editor C. L. Cooper, A. Furnham, and two reviewers for their comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

Address all correspondence to Thomas Li-Ping Tang, Department of Management and Marketing, College of Business, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN 37132, U.S.A.

0894-3796/92/020197-06$05.00 Received 18 July 1989 ? 1992 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Final Revision 16 January 1991

198 T. L-P. TANG

(Tang and Baumeister, 1984) and PE was associated with guilt (Mirels and Garrett, 1971). Hypothesis 5 suggests that LE will be negatively associated with the evil attitudes and positively associated with the good attitudes. The economic man is interested in what is useful, whereas the political man is interested primarily in power (Allport, Vernon and Lindzey, 1970). Thus, hypothesis 6 predicts that achievement will be correlated with economical values. Power and self-esteem would be associated with political values. Finally, hypothesis 7 predicts that for those who think that money represents one’s achievement, they will experience a low level of job satisfaction and life satisfaction.


Subjects A 25-page questionnaire was distributed to 1200 subjects. Subjects were recruited from students and the faculty of a regional state university with 14 000 students, personnel managers attending professional compensation seminars, workers at Arnold Engineering Development Center in TN, local schools, banks, churches, and other establishments. A total of 689 (out of 769 returned) copies was usable. In the present study, only subjects with full-time work experience were selected (N = 249).


The Money Ethic Scale (MES) Fifty items were generated for the original MES scale. The response format was a 7-point, Likert-type scale using disagree strongly (1), neutral (4), and agree strongly (7) as anchor points. Other measures were also used: the Protestant Ethic Scale (Mirels and Garrett, 1971), Leisure Ethic Scale (Crandall and Slivken, 1980), study of values (Allport et al., 1970), Job Descriptive Index (JDI) (Smith, Kendall and Hulin, 1975), and life satisfaction (Flanagan, 1978) (see Tang, 1988).

Results and discussion

Data based on the original 50-item money questionnaire from 249 subjects were subjected to a principal components factor analysis. Using a criterion of eigenvalues greater than one, fol- lowed by the varimax rotation, and a scree-test, six factors (30 items, 42.8 per cent of the variance) were selected for the final Money Ethic Scale (MES). These results are consistent with previous findings (cf Furnham, 1984; Yamauchi and Templer, 1982). Items that had factor loading of 0.40 or greater on a factor were selected (see Table 1).

Factors of the Money Ethic Scale (MES) Factor 1 had nine items which accounted for 17.0 per cent of the common variance. It represents the idea that money is ‘good’, i.e. the positive attitudes towards money (cf. Wernimont and Fitzpatrick, 1972). Factor 2 contained six items (8.2 per cent of the variance) and was labeled ‘evil’. This subscale reveals the negative attitudes towards money.

The four items of factor 3 were best characterized as ‘achievement’ which accounted for 5.8 per cent of the variance. ‘In America, money is how we keep score’ (Rubenstein, 1981, p. 36). Further ‘one is not interested in money, but in what money will buy’ (Crump, 1981,


Table 1. Factor loadings for the Money Ethic Scale

Item Loading

Factor 1: Good 1. Money is an important factor in the lives of all of us 0.68 2. Money is good 0.62

  1. Money is important 0.60 46. I value money very highly 0.57 24. Money is valuable 0.52 36. Money does not grow on trees 0.52 27. Money can buy you luxuries 0.52 14. Money is attractive 0.49 45. I think that it is very important to save some money 0.45

Factor 2: Evil 15. Money is the root of all evil 0.76 4. Money is evil 0.64

  1. Money spent is money lost (wasted) 0.59 32. Money is shameful 0.58 19. Money is useless 0.57 37. A penny saved is a penny earned 0.40

Factor 3: Achievement 5. Money represents one’s achievement 0.74 9. Money is the most important thing (goal) in my life 0.61 8. Money is a symbol of success 0.58 3. Money can buy everything 0.52

Factor 4: Respect (self-esteem) 20. Money makes people respect you in the community 0.71 31. Money is honorable 0.61 25. Money will help you express your competence and abilities 0.60 12. Money can bring you many friends 0.52

Factor 5: Budget 47. I use my money very carefully 0.83 48. I budget my money very well 0.81 43. I pay my bills immediately in order to avoid interest or penalties 0.59

Factor 6: Freedom (power) 11. Money gives you autonomy and freedom 0.63 7. Money in the bank is a sign of security 0.57

  1. Money can give you the opportunity to be what you want to be 0.51 30. Money means power 0.49

N= 249.

p. 16). Factor 4, ‘respect’/’self-esteem’, had four items (4.4 per cent of the variance). Money may help people express their competence and abilities and gain self-esteem and respect from others.

Factor 5 had three items and accounted for 4.1 per cent of the variance. This factor reveals how people ‘budget’ their money which is related to the notion of ‘retention’ and ‘effort/ability’ (Furnham, 1984). There were four items for factor 6 ‘freedom’/’power’ (3.3 per cent of the variance). With money, one is able to have autonomy, freedom, and security, be what one wants to be, and influence others. Money is power (Furnham, 1984).

200 T. L-P. TANG

Table 2. Mean, standard deviation, and correlations of the Money Ethic Scale (MES) and the nomological network of MES

Factor Variable M S.D. 1 2 3 4 5 6

The Money Ethic Scale 1. Good 51.12 6.25 -36* 23* 28* 25* 46* 2. Evil 16.93 5.43 08 07 -00 -06 3. Achievement 12.84 4.44 46* -06 47* 4. Respect 15.05 4.55 04 52* 5. Budget 15.28 3.70 1lt 6. Freedom (power) 19.69 4.55

Demographic variable Age 35.04 10.84 09 – 19* -03 02 12t -04 Sex (female = 0, male= 1) 03 -00 08 -00 – 13t 05 Income (1000) 23.21 12.92 02 -21* 14t -06 -18t -01

Personality variable Work ethic 84.93 11.97 05 35* -08 10 19t lit Leisure ethic 47.71 7.37 25* -19t 12t 10 -04 18t Study of values

Theoretical 39.56 7.07 04 -06 17t -00 -07 15t Economical 43.54 7.72 18t -01 27* 13t -08 19t Aesthetic 38.27 8.05 -17t -07 02 02 -09 -01 Social 37.84 7.48 01 15t -22* -10 15t – 19* Political 40.30 6.73 15t -10 29* 16t -05 19* Religious 40.57 10.76 -lit 10 -34* – 12t 10 -22*

Work-related variable Job satisfaction (JDI)

Work 35.53 10.24 02 – 14t -24* -00 01 – 13t Pay 32.85 13.90 -04 03 -06 -lit -04 – 17t Promotion 26.52 18.91 -01 05 – 14t 06 07 -05 Supervision 41.39 13.15 11 -10 – 12t 11 17t 02 Co-worker 42.68 11.71 01 -07 -24* -00 01 – 13t

Life satisfaction 5.47 1.14 -05 -02 -22* -01 26* -18t

N = 249. All decimals have been omitted for correlations. *p < 0.001; tp < 0.05; tp < 0.01.

Reliability The Cronbach’s alpha for each of the six subscales of the MES was as follow: 0.81, 0.69, 0.70, 0.68, 0.72, and 0.71, respectively. The test-retest reliability (N = 50, four weeks apart) for each of the six subscales was as follows: 0.67, 0.56, 0.61, 0.63, 0.65, and 0.83, respectively. Thus, the MES scale has satisfactory inter-item consistency and test-retest reliability.

The nomological network of the Money Ethic Scale Table 2 shows that one’s ability to budget money was correlated with age (hypothesis 1) and sex (female) (hypothesis 2). High income people tended to think that money revealed one’s achievement (hypothesis 3) and was less evil. Young people are more oriented to see money as evil.

High Protestant Ethic subjects (PEs) reported that they budgeted their money properly and


tended to see money as evil (hypothesis 4) and freedom/power. High Leisure Ethic individuals (LEs) were more oriented to see money as good, less evil (hypothesis 5), achievement, and freedom/power.

Economic and political values were positively associated with achievement (hypothesis 6), respect/self-esteem, and power. Social and religious values were negatively correlated with achie- vement and power. Thus, social and religious values are different from economic and political values. Religious value was negatively correlated with good and respect.

People who valued money as achievement experienced a low level of satisfaction with work, promotion, supervision, co-worker, and overall life satisfaction (hypothesis 7). The desires to have more freedom and power from money were associated with lower satisfaction with work, pay, co-worker, and overall life satisfaction. People with high work satisfaction felt that money was not evil. People who budgeted their money well were satisfied with their life. Further, income was significantly correlated with satisfaction of work (r = 0.20, p = 0.003), pay (r = 0.38, p = 0.001), and promotion (r = 0.13, p = 0.035). These results provide evidence of construct validity for the MES.

The attitudes towards money are by no means unidimensional (Furnham, 1984). People’s attitudes towards money, as measured by MES, can be perceived as their ‘frame of reference’ in which they examine their everyday life. It should be pointed out that the correlations presented are relatively low and the results should be interpreted with caution due to its small and non- representative sample. More research is needed to fully establish the construct validity and the nomological network of associations in which the MES exists (cf. Anastasi, 1988).

References Allport, G. W., Vernon, P. E. and Lindzey, G. (1970). Study of Values: Manual, Houghton Mifflin Co.,

Boston, MA. Anastasi, A. (1988). Psychological Testing, 6th edn, Macmillan Publishing Co., New York. Crandall, R. and Slivken, K. (1980). ‘Leisure attitudes and their measurement’. In: Iso-Ahola, S. E. (Ed.)

Social Psychological Perspectives on Leisure and Recreation, Thomas, Springfield, IL, pp. 261-284. Crump, T. (1983). The Phenomenon of Money, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London. Flanagan, J. C. (1978). ‘A research approach to improving our quality of life’, American Psychologist,

33, 138-147. Furnham, A. (1984). ‘Many sides of the coin: The psychology of money usage’, Personality and Individual

Difference, 5, (5), 501-509. Furnham, A. and Bland, C. (1983). ‘The Protestant work ethic and conservatism’, Personality and Individual

DiJference, 4, (2), 205-206. Herzberg, F., Mausner, B. and Snyderman, B. (1959). The Motivation to Work, John Wiley and Sons,

New York. Lawler, E. E. (1981). Pay and Organization Development, Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., Reading, MA. Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and Personality, Harper, New York. McClelland, D. C. (1967). ‘Money as a motivator: Some research insights’, The McKinsey Quarterly,

10-21. McClure, R. F. (1984). ‘The relationship between money attitudes and overall pathology’, Psychology,

A Quarterly Journal of Human Behaviour, 21 (1), 4-6. Mirels, H. and Garrett, J. (1971). ‘The Protestant ethic as a personality variable’, Journal of Consulting

and Clinical Psychology, 36, 40-44. Opsahl, R. L. and Dunnette, M. D. (1966). ‘The role of financial compensation in industrial motivation’,

Psychological Bulletin, 66 (2), 94-118. Rubenstein, C. (1981). ‘Money and self-esteem, relationships, secrecy, envy, satisfaction’, Psychology

Today, 15 (5), 29-44. Smith, P. C., Kendall, L. M. and Hulin, C. L. (1975). The Measurement of Satisfaction in Work and

Retirement, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH.

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Tang, T. L. P. (1988, April). ‘The meaning of money revisited: The development of the Money Ethic Scale’. Paper presented at the 34th Annual Convention of the Southwestern Psychological Association, Tulsa, OK. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service ED 306 494).

Tang, T. L. P. and Baumeister, R. F. (1984). ‘Effects of personal values, perceived surveillance, and task labels on task preference: The ideology of turning play into work’, Journal of Applied Psychology, 69 (1), 99-105.

Weber, M. (1958). The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. (T. Parsons, Trans.) Scribner’s, New York. (Original work published 1904-1905).

Wernimont, P. F. and Fitzpatrick, S. (1972). ‘The meaning of money’, Journal of Applied Psychology, 56 (3), 218-226.

Whyte, W. F. (1955). Money and Motivation.- An Analysis of Incentives in Industry, Harper and Row, New York.

Yamauchi, K. T. and Templer, D. I. (1982). ‘The development of a money attitude scale’, Journal of Personality Assessment, 46 (5), 522-528.

Article Contents
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Issue Table of Contents
Journal of Organizational Behavior, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Mar., 1992), pp. 103-202
Front Matter
Alumni and Their Alma Mater: A Partial Test of the Reformulated Model of Organizational Identification [pp. 103 – 123]
Generalizing the Importance of Occupational and Career Views to Job Satisfaction Attitudes [pp. 125 – 140]
Correlates of Career-Oriented Mentoring for Early Career Managers and Professionals [pp. 141 – 154]
Work-Nonwork Conflict and the Perceived Quality of Life [pp. 155 – 168]
Research Notes
Mentorship and Career Mobility: An Empirical Investigation [pp. 169 – 174]
The Relations of Personality and Cognitive Styles on Job and Class Performance [pp. 175 – 185]
Sociometric and Ability-Based Assignment to Work Groups: Some Implications for Personnel Selection [pp. 187 – 196]
The Meaning of Money Revisited [pp. 197 – 202]
Back Matter

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