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Essays on dispositional greed : the effect of insatiability on consumer behavior

Goedele Krekels (UGent)
(2015)
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(UGent)
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Abstract
throughout human development, from the early rise of a monetary economy to the recent financial crisis. The concept of greed also lingers in modern science and is used to study diverse events, from individual acquisitive behavior with lottery tickets to society-wide effects of fraud and employee theft. In most academic research on greed, scholars concentrate on situational influences on greedy behavior. Lay people on the other hand have focused on greed as a personal difference variable throughout history. Given that extant research on greed has mainly focused on situational determinants, largely overlooking individual differences in greed, in this dissertation we will examine dispositional greed to gain more insight into greed as a personality trait. Defining dispositional greed as a personality trait that entails an insatiable, self-centered desire for more resources, the first paper introduces a six item Dispositional Greed Scale. Three studies demonstrate convergent and discriminant validity, test-retest reliability and predictive validity. Specifically, they demonstrate that greed is related to but different from materialism. It is also positively related to entitlement, egoism, social comparison, envy, competition and productivity orientation and negatively related to impression management and satisfaction with life. The Dispositional Greed Scale enables researchers to disentangle the impact of a greedy personality from that of the situation. The second paper introduces childhood resource uncertainty as a possible cause for such individual differences in greed. Indeed, previous research has shown that acquisitive behavior can be triggered by uncertainty in the environment or upbringing. Three studies indicate that this resource uncertainty in childhood leads to adaptive greed, i.e. acquisitive behavior to prepare for future shortages. However, as this process is due to an intensified sensitization to environmental uncertainty, in times of abundance, this acquisitive behavior becomes maladaptive. Since the 1980’s, two thinking styles have been put forward to explain choice behavior: absolute and relative thinking. Though the first is more in accordance with rational economic theory, the second has been more predictive of real-life economic behavior. In the third paper we propose dispositional greed as a moderator for thinking style. Three studies show that greedy people exhibit an absolute thinking style whereas non-greedy people display a relative thinking style. Furthermore, this difference in thinking style is explained by a difference in diminishing marginal utility. Finally, greedy people do not necessarily think more rational, as in specific situations their absolute thinking leads them towards suboptimal decisions. Though most research and lay understanding focus on greed as acquisitive behavior, we propose retention motives as a second aspect of a greedy disposition. To attain more, greedy people might first have to focus on retaining their current possessions. In our fourth and final chapter, four studies show that retention or loss aversion is an important concept in explaining greedy behavior. Furthermore it might be a stronger predictor than acquisition in certain situations and links greed to previously unrelated behavior. This new focus on dispositional greed as foremost retention focused not only enhances our understanding of greed, but also broadens its applicability in consumer research.
Keywords
Dispositional greed, Personality characteristics, Scale development, Absolute and Relative thinking

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Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
Krekels, Goedele. “Essays on Dispositional Greed : the Effect of Insatiability on Consumer Behavior.” 2015 : n. pag. Print.
APA
Krekels, G. (2015). Essays on dispositional greed : the effect of insatiability on consumer behavior. Ghent University. Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent, Belgium.
Chicago author-date
Krekels, Goedele. 2015. “Essays on Dispositional Greed : the Effect of Insatiability on Consumer Behavior”. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University. Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Krekels, Goedele. 2015. “Essays on Dispositional Greed : the Effect of Insatiability on Consumer Behavior”. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University. Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
Vancouver
1.
Krekels G. Essays on dispositional greed : the effect of insatiability on consumer behavior. [Ghent, Belgium]: Ghent University. Faculty of Economics and Business Administration; 2015.
IEEE
[1]
G. Krekels, “Essays on dispositional greed : the effect of insatiability on consumer behavior,” Ghent University. Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent, Belgium, 2015.
@phdthesis{5956382,
  abstract     = {throughout human development, from the early rise of a monetary economy to the recent financial crisis. The concept of greed also lingers in modern science and is used to study diverse events, from individual acquisitive behavior with lottery tickets to society-wide effects of fraud and employee theft. In most academic research on greed, scholars concentrate on situational influences on greedy behavior. Lay people on the other hand have focused on greed as a personal difference variable throughout history. Given that extant research on greed has mainly focused on situational determinants, largely overlooking individual differences in greed, in this dissertation we will examine dispositional greed to gain more insight into greed as a personality trait.
Defining dispositional greed as a personality trait that entails an insatiable, self-centered desire for more resources, the first paper introduces a six item Dispositional Greed Scale. Three studies demonstrate convergent and discriminant validity, test-retest reliability and predictive validity. Specifically, they demonstrate that greed is related to but different from materialism. It is also positively related to entitlement, egoism, social comparison, envy, competition and productivity orientation and negatively related to impression management and satisfaction with life. The Dispositional Greed Scale enables researchers to disentangle the impact of a greedy personality from that of the situation.
The second paper introduces childhood resource uncertainty as a possible cause for such individual differences in greed. Indeed, previous research has shown that acquisitive behavior can be triggered by uncertainty in the environment or upbringing. Three studies indicate that this resource uncertainty in childhood leads to adaptive greed, i.e. acquisitive behavior to prepare for future shortages. However, as this process is due to an intensified sensitization to environmental uncertainty, in times of abundance, this acquisitive behavior becomes maladaptive. Since the 1980’s, two thinking styles have been put forward to explain choice behavior: absolute and relative thinking. Though the first is more in accordance with rational economic theory, the second has been more predictive of real-life economic behavior.
In the third paper we propose dispositional greed as a moderator for thinking style. Three studies show that greedy people exhibit an absolute thinking style whereas non-greedy people display a relative thinking style. Furthermore, this difference in thinking style is explained by a difference in diminishing marginal utility. Finally, greedy people do not necessarily think more rational, as in specific situations their absolute thinking leads them towards suboptimal decisions. Though most research and lay understanding focus on greed as acquisitive behavior, we propose retention motives as a second aspect of a greedy disposition. To attain more, greedy people might first have to focus on retaining their current possessions.
In our fourth and final chapter, four studies show that retention or loss aversion is an important concept in explaining greedy behavior. Furthermore it might be a stronger predictor than acquisition in certain situations and links greed to previously unrelated behavior. This new focus on dispositional greed as foremost retention focused not only enhances our understanding of greed, but also broadens its applicability in consumer research.},
  author       = {Krekels, Goedele},
  keywords     = {Dispositional greed,Personality characteristics,Scale development,Absolute and Relative thinking},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {XX, 204},
  publisher    = {Ghent University. Faculty of Economics and Business Administration},
  school       = {Ghent University},
  title        = {Essays on dispositional greed : the effect of insatiability on consumer behavior},
  year         = {2015},
}