Dispositional Greed (paper)

In 2015, two papers came out with exactly the same title: Dispositional Greed. Here, I focus on the paper by Seuntjes et al (Tilburg). The other one is by two Belgian scholars (Ghent). Fortunately, results were similar. A concurrent replication.


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.

This article 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.

To compare, the Belgian paper had two studies, N=317 “fully employed US citizens” and N=218 US MTurkers.


Further Research
In Study 1, the authors found an “unexpected result, namely the absence of a relationship between greed and risk taking.


Future research could also focus on the observation that some groups of people appeared to score higher on dispositional greed than others. For example, we found that younger people were greedier than older people. (…)

We also found relationships between greed and levels of education and between greed and gender, but, interestingly, we did not find relationships with income or religiosity.

The Belgian study concluded “Greed is higher in men, professionals in financial sectors and non-religious people“;

As expected, men (M = 3.72, SD = 1.27) are more greedy than women (M = 3.40, SD = 1.13, t(216) = 1.99, p < .05). By regrouping the 20 potential industries, we found that respondents working in financial and management sectors (M = 3.84, SD = 1.28) are significantly greedier than those working in services, or the arts (M = 3.22, SD = 1.20, t(114) = 2.70, p < .01). Whether greedy people are more likely to start a financial job or whether financial jobs trigger a greedy disposition is not clear from our results and requires further research. [Krekels & Pandelaere, 2015]

DGS is Dutch
The Dispositional Greed Scale (DGS) consists of these 7 items, with response on a 5-point scale; (Sterk oneens |Oneens | Niet oneens/niet eens | Eens |Sterk eens):

  • Ik wil altijd meer
  • Ik ben eigenlijk wel hebberig
  • Geld heb je nooit genoeg
  • Zodra ik iets heb denk ik alweer aan het volgende dat ik wil hebben
  • Het maakt niet uit hoeveel ik heb, ik ben nooit echt tevreden
  • Mijn levensmotto is ‘meer is beter’
  • Ik denk dat ik nooit genoeg spullen kan hebben


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