PNAS has recently published a paper entitled Money and Trust Among Strangers, which argues that token money may play an important behavioural role which facilitates cooperation in society. You can read a BBC report on the paper here.
Maria Bigoni and her co-authors conduct an experiment where they examine the role of token money in facilitating cooperation among strangers. They argue that lack of trust among strangers makes money behaviourally essential. Could this possibly explain why we accept money which has no intrinsic value?