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UBC Theses and Dissertations

How does it feel to be greedy? : the role of pride in avaricious acquisition Mercadante, Eric


Psychologists define greed as a desire to acquire more and the dissatisfaction of never having enough (Seuntjens et al., 2015a), but studies have not examined the psychological processes that underlie and sustain this disposition. We propose that a desire to attain pride might be one emotional mechanism that promotes greedy acquisition. In this account, greedy people experience a boost of pride from acquisition but these feelings are short lived, potentially leading to the perpetual acquisitiveness characteristic of dispositional greed. In the present dissertation, I test this theoretical model, as well as its boundary conditions and implications, in 14 studies. These studies also show that the relationship between greed and pride is robust to controlling for other positive emotions, suggesting that feeling pride upon acquisition is the distinguishing factor between the emotional experience of greedy and less greedy people in this situation. In addition, I demonstrate that greedy people’s pervasive acquisitiveness cannot be explained by a deficit in affective forecasting compared to people low in greed. I also test the boundary conditions of this process finding, for example, that greedy people feel equivalent pride boosts in acquisitions received as gifts compared with those they purchase for themselves and that greedy people do not show the same pattern of pride responses to personal achievements. Finally, I summarize the findings, compare them to other models of related traits in the field, and discuss the implications and future directions of this research. Together, this dissertation proposes and tests a theoretical model that might help explain greedy people’s defining characteristic, pervasive acquisitiveness, by demonstrating how acquisition foments intense, yet ephemeral, emotional benefits for greedy people.

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