Understanding Greed

Greed is an important motive: it is seen as both productive (a source of ambition; the motor of the economy) and destructive (undermining social relationships; the cause of the late 2000s financial crisis). However, relatively little is known about what greed is and does. A new article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reports on 5 studies that develop and test the 7-item Dispositional Greed Scale (DGS). Study 1 (including 4 separate samples from 2 different countries, total N = 6092) provides evidence for the construct and discriminant validity of the DGS in terms of positive correlations with maximization, self-interest, envy, materialism, and impulsiveness, and negative correlations with self-control and life satisfaction. Study 2 (N = 290) presents further evidence for discriminant validity, finding that the DGS predicts greedy behavioral tendencies over and above materialism. Furthermore, the DGS predicts economic behavior: greedy people allocate more money to themselves in dictator games (Study 3, N = 300) and ultimatum games (Study 4, N = 603), and take more in a resource dilemma (Study 5, N = 305). These findings shed light on what greed is and does, how people differ in greed, and how greed can be measured. In addition, they show the importance of greed in economic behavior and provide directions for future studies.

For the abstract

           

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