Five questions about greed – NEMO Kennislink

Economic psychologist Carlin Hoyer

Caroline Hoyer

more more more. We all know about greed – just think of the record number of purchases we made last Black Friday. Some economists see greed as the engine of the economy. For others, there are mainly disadvantages, because more and more consumption is out of proportion to the limits of our planet. In addition, there are also negative psychological effects. Economic psychologist Carline Hoyer has a Ph.D. from Tilburg University on research into what greed does to people.

What is greed and can you measure it?

“Greed is the insatiable desire for more. It has to do with money or possessions, but it can also relate to the desire for sex, higher status, more food, or more friends. Greedy people not only want more, but they are also dissatisfied with what they have. Even though they get what they want, they remain dissatisfied and want more. Greed is a trait we all possess to a greater or lesser degree. By having people fill out questionnaires, we can classify people as more or less greedy.”

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How does a person become greedy?

“Many personality traits of people develop during their childhood. Our research among the Dutch and Americans shows that those who grow up in wealth become more greedy later on. Perhaps this is because in their youth people get used to the luxurious lifestyle and comfort of life. Children who get everything They want to become more greedy later. This effect is especially strong for children who don’t have siblings, because then they don’t have to share that wealth.”

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Are greedy people often lonely and unhappy?

“My research shows that greedy people experience more loneliness and more often feel unhappy. They have shorter relationships. On the one hand, this is because greed makes people dissatisfied, but also because others often see greed as unkind. We think this is is the reason they have trouble making and keeping friendships.It turns out that they object to their friends more: friendship then becomes practical.For example, a greedy person tends to ask friends to help paint their house, instead of going to a pub together.So greed has an effect There is a significant impact on the social life of greedy people Society as a whole can also be harmed by greedy behavior A relationship has emerged between greed and immoral behavior Greedy people, for example, often travel on public transport without paying, or are not honest with Their tax returns or they cheat more often. There is also a study that shows the relationship between greed and corruption.”

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Does greed also have positive aspects?

“A little greed isn’t a bad thing. Economists see greed as the engine of the economy: it can drive investment and innovation. My research shows that greed does indeed bring economic benefits. Greedy people have, on average, higher household incomes than others. This may be because greedy people They choose their partner strategically, so they consciously live with someone with a higher income.In addition, greed sometimes has an evolutionary advantage: if you save and accumulate a lot, which greed often does, it can increase your chance of survival.For example, When sunflower oil became scarce as a result of the war in Ukraine, the greedy might have suffered less because they bought it en masse.

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Do you have advice for people on how to reduce greed?

“We expect that greed can be mitigated through meditation or mindfulness, for example. Those who live in the here and now will desire less what they do not yet have. A number of students are now testing whether we can prove this too. Moreover, there are Known ways to become more satisfied with what you have For example, by writing down each day in a notebook what you were satisfied with that day You can also try to make your choices less impulsive Make a shopping list when you go to the supermarket so you don’t come home with everything The kinds of things you don’t need. And if you buy something online, you can agree with yourself that you have to have something in your cart for ten days before you buy it.”

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Also read the interview about consuming less:

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