Greed Why are some people greedy

Greed: definition, dangers, tips

History repeats itself over and over again: greed tempts people to take advantage of your position, to fraudulently enrich themselves and to use others to their own advantage. Greed seems limitless - and often also limitlessly stupid. Reputation and job are jeopardized in order to increase one's property in every conceivable way. A bug with numerous dangers. What you should know about greed ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Definition: what is greed?

greed can be observed in a wide variety of situations. Top managers try to enrich themselves with tricks despite hardly imaginable salaries, companies do not miss any opportunity to maximize their own profit, even if customers or suppliers suffer, and people's greed is often noticeable even on a small scale.

It's easy to point your finger at others and think to yourself: How can you be so greedy? But can Greed seduce everyone, which is why you should sometimes also critically question yourself whether you always act free from greed.

According to definition is greed that ...

violent, immoderate desire directed towards enjoyment and satisfaction, possession and fulfillment of desires ”.

Greed is excessive desire, the unbridled and unrestrained desire for more and more, which at some point no longer stops even at moral and legal limits. Greedy people are ready at the expense of others to enrich and to put one's own advantage above everything else.

Causes: where does greed come from?

As with many eye-catching and most importantly negative traits Even with greed, a lot of thought is given to the possible causes of the behavior. It is not the sole trigger that leads to greed.

Rather, can different causes encourage a person's greed. These for example:

  • Desire for recognition

    Greed can be a way of satisfying one's desire for approval. A large, material possession should help to strengthen one's own ego and to increase in the reputation of others.

  • Materialistic thinking

    How greedy someone is depends on their environment. In a very materialistic society, people tend to be more greedy. If someone's possessions are considered less important, they are less likely to show greedy behavior.

  • Feeling of injustice

    If someone feels that they have been treated unfairly, greed can result. In particular, the belief that you have not received something when you are legally entitled to it can lead to excessive desire.

  • Evolutionary origin

    Human greed can also be justified from an evolutionary point of view. For a long time there was a simple law: whoever has more than others increases their chances of survival. Even today every person has this predisposition.

In addition, the following applies: Opportunity makes you greedy. Those who see the chance to get away with their greed with impunity are more likely to lapse into insatiable behavior and are prepared to seek their own advantage against other interests.

Be greedy: the principle of learned carelessness

It is not uncommon for greed to be the result Principle of learned carelessnessas Dieter Frey, Professor of Social Psychology at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, calls it. First someone steals a couple of ballpoint pens, then he takes batteries with him, and finally he lets the printer go with him or even the whole PC.

According to Frey's findings, the desire to enrich oneself increases in four small steps - which show how quickly greed can result in theft and fraud in the job.

You can read these like typical phases on the way to unethical behavior - or like a small one Self testwhen you might have already thought that way or are even thinking ...

  • Everyone does that!

    Of course, those affected do not know whether everyone is doing it. But it sounds like a good justification. However, they cannot ask anyone about it either, because deep down their conscience gnaws that what they are doing is not correct after all.

  • I am entitled to it!

    One of them spent two months working intensively on the project, slaving right down to the dolls, only seeing his wife and children on weekends and now, with the deal, the company has earned millions in sales. What is a foolish printer cartridge that you take with you? Besides, you also worked from home. Right. But why don't these people ask the boss about the threesome right away? Maybe he'll give them a second cartridge as well. Or maybe not.

  • They don't even know what they have in me!

    Anyone who thinks this way is most likely suffering from chronic self-overestimation - or, as psychologists call it, from cognitive dissonance. Those who work hard and achieve a lot can treat themselves to something. It may still be normal that there are always short breaks during the day, to chat with colleagues over coffee. It becomes questionable when such conversations degenerate into an escape from work and they start to go shopping during working hours or sell promotional gifts and office supplies on Ebay.

  • The honest is the stupid!

    Many think: You won't get anything for free in the shop. You're just a slave here. So it is only fair to compensate for a bit of systematic exploitation. A virtuoso explanation - no trace of any awareness of wrongdoing. And a sure way into the abyss.

Greed is cool? The benefits of greed

Greed is an unpopular and negative quality. There are probably no two opinions about it. If only because greedy behavior is selfish and approvingly accepts the disadvantage of others. Of positive sides is accordingly rarely spoken - but it actually does exist.

So greed can be a great drive to achieve a goal. Greedy people often have high goals and want to achieve this. So being greedy can certainly contribute to success.

It remains questionable which way greed takes. If this is converted into motivation, nothing speaks against it. If, on the other hand, they look for other, illegal or at least morally questionable methods, possible advantages are immediately lost.

Dangers: How greed harms

Despite the possible advantages, one thing is clear: Greed has far more negative sides and dangers. And it's certainly not a trivial offense. Greedy behavior is in any case highly selfish, shows little empathy and strongly materialistic thinking. Not exactly personable.

To make matters worse, greed often crosses boundaries. Not being able to differentiate between mine and yours, cheating on expense reports, accepting advantageous gifts - the list could go on for some time. Head and career are put at risk.

But also come with greed further dangers:

  • Exaggerated risk-taking

    Studies have shown: Greedy people take much greater risks - which in many cases goes wrong. In a simple experiment, the participants were asked to inflate balloons: the more plump, the higher the promised profit. If the balloon burst, however, there was nothing.

    The result: subjects who were identified as particularly greedy in a previous test took significantly more risk and regularly burst the balloon. They just didn't want to settle for anything less and fell victim to their own greed.

  • Lack of learning effect

    A second danger stems from the same experiment: Greedy people do not learn from their mistakes. Even after the balloon had burst a few times before, the greedy participants kept pumping and not reducing the risk.

    Instead of learning from previous experiences and changing strategies, the greedy test subjects stubbornly stuck to their approach.

  • Social isolation

    Greed makes you lonely. Just being concerned about your own advantage, taking advantage of others, placing material goods above interpersonal relationships - none of this helps to make friends, to socialize or to build trust.

    In the worst case and with persistent greed, this leads to social isolation, in which those affected are avoided by others and excluded from the group.

  • Growing dissatisfaction

    If you succumb to greed, a cycle of discontent begins. You always want more, only to find that it doesn't make you happy. So it has to be more again, greed continues to grow - but you will never be satisfied with it.

    Greedy people give themselves to the illusion that having material goods will make you happy in the long term. A fallacy that can lead to great frustration.

Tips: How to Protect Yourself from Greed

Greed can be a persistent trait, but it can also appear short-term and only in certain situations. In any case, the following applies: So that you don't have to Victim of your own greed you should do something and protect yourself from it.

The good news: There are several ways to renounce greed. The following tips help:

  • Learn frugality

    The best and most effective remedy for greed is frugality. Make yourself aware that it doesn't always have to be more. Those who are able to be happy with what they have become immune to the excessive desires of greed.

    An important factor in this is gratitude. Learn to appreciate what you have and get excited about it. Greed doesn't stand a chance.

  • Reflect on your behavior

    Greedy behavior is often not recognized as such. It happens unconsciously or is initially justified to itself. The only thing that helps is critical questioning of one's own actions.

    Reflect on the motives that influence your behavior and be self-critical in doing so.

  • Talk to those around you

    Another option: Put yourself on the curb and confide in good friends. They can hold up a mirror to you and give you honest feedback on your behavior.

    The unvarnished comments of such confidants raise awareness of what is and what is not. Listen to these friends, especially when your own conscience is not your best advisor.

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20th October 2020Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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