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Description: The self-sufficiency hypothesis suggests that priming individuals with money makes them focus more strongly on themselves than on others. However, recently, research supporting this claim has been heavily criticized and some attempts to replicate have failed. A reason for the inconsistent findings in the field may lay in the common use of explicit measures, because they tend to rely on one or just a few items and are thus prone to demand effects and low reliability. In the present research, we administered, in two experiments, the imitation-inhibition task—a robust, unobtrusive and reliable paradigm that is sensitive to self-other focus on a trial-by-trial basis. A pilot study found an increased focus on the self as compared to others when primed with money. Building on this finding, a preregistered high-powered experiment replicated this effect, suggesting that money primes may indeed increase a focus on the self. An additionally carried out meta-analysis indicates that automatic imitation is modulated by self-other focus and that money primes lead to a smaller focus on the self than conventional methods. Overall the found effects are rather small and several limitations, such as order effects, call for a cautious interpretation of the findings.

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