Social Question

Tbag's avatar

Why is it that some people never stop being greedy?

Asked by Tbag (3303points) November 8th, 2011

Simple question, why? I mean, they already have what they want and probably more, greed comes in and they start craving for more and more! Why? Typical human behavior?

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26 Answers

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I have a hard time really understanding this, as well.

whitetigress's avatar

Could have been deprived of materials growing up. The new sense of control over property might be exhilarating. Whether we like it or not, there is a status quo in society, measured by the latest technologies, how much of something we have, whether its higher quality, whether it does more. Stuff like that I’d say gets a greedy person pretty motivated…

Pandora's avatar

I often think its because they feel empty inside so they try really hard to fill it with everything else the world has to offer. Money, and power are addictive to people who feel they have nothing else. There is also what @whitetigress said.
But there are many things that can motivate a person. Family expectations, a huge sense of self importance that comes with money, insecurtiy, emptiness, or even fear of losing everything and everyone in their lives.
I’m not excusing greedy behavior but there can be a ton of reason. Some are just sad and others that are just inexcusable.

whitetigress's avatar

@Pandora Ah, I was watching Hoarders today and a psychologist had explained that some hoarders fill their void with material possessions! It’s unfortunate for those who fill the void when a loved one dies, because they just keep collecting for eternity, or until they get help. That’s a strange greed…

Pandora's avatar

@whitetigress It is sad. I’ve seen hoarders and I remember this one case where a woman was afraid of losing her loved one’s. The more they distanced themselves from her the more she filled the void with things. But the more she did that the more they distanced themselves from her because they felt over-whelmingly ashamed of her hoarding and resentful of her illness.
@Sher_King Thanks. :)

thorninmud's avatar

When you get something you’ve wanted, your brain’s reward mechanism gives you a little treat in the form of a dopamine surge. That feels great. Only, it doesn’t last long at all. When it goes away, you crave another dopamine hit. You got that last hit by acquiring an object of desire, so you set out to acquire another object of desire. The cycle repeats.

It’s a hard cycle to break. You first have to see how it works—that the buzz of acquisition is invariably short=lived and followed by an equally intense void of craving. You have to have the wisdom to see where it will lead if pursued—an ever-escalating servitude to your cravings. You have to muster the will-power to interrupt the cycle by letting those cravings go unfulfilled.

dabbler's avatar

In a word, pain.
Some people hurt so much from whatever sad and sorry circumstances they have experienced that feelings of sympathy, love, and kindness are overwhelmed. They will do things that help to feel something/anything and collecting more stuff and money provides a reliable experience.

smilingheart1's avatar

I can only suggest that the more that greedy hearted attitude is fed, the bigger it grows. At the Unionized maintenance section of the factory I work at, it is evidenced stronger and stronger orb every shutdown where overtime padding, meal allowance abuse, theft all increase right long with the hefty double time. In that situation, competitiveness for hours knows no bounds. I believe their worldview is that whoever dies with the most toys wins.

JLeslie's avatar

I think it depends how one defines greed. Right now there is a big movement in the US, especially among some Christian groups, to encourage monetary greed as sanctioned by Jesus and what makes America great. That greed is part of the fundamentals of democracy and capitalism.

I do wish they would change the definition of greedy. It is used to explain any type of behavior where someone selfishly focuses on their own gain. But, I think there is healthy greed, and greed that goes over the line. I prefer healthy greed to have a new word.

I never could be terribly greedy. I have my limit where I start to feel like I have enough, and I want others to be able to have also. But, I do like good value for money I spend, some might perceive my being prudent with spending money as cheap and greedy? Not sure.

The greed satisfies some sort of ego thing for certain people I guess. They feel like big man on campus. Wealth does give you power and independence, some people just never feel like they have enough of it.

Some people are greedy about everything, not just money, and I assume it goes back to their upbringing. Maybe they were very competitive with siblings or friends? Maybe they feel emotionally empty, and material things fill their soul when nothing else does? Although, I would even argue people can be greedy about other people’s time, demanding attention, because of their own neediness.

All sorts of reasons I guess.

snowberry's avatar

It’s common to man. Greed is part of what makes people human. Some of us are more greedy than others.

marinelife's avatar

Not typical of all people. Look at the millions of people who live their lives modestly.

Meego's avatar

Greed I think is connected to control. My dead husbands mother wanted everything. In fact she got it after my husband died due to greed, but now she’s all high and mighty because she has some sense of control about what she believes is hers. LOL.

Now I just think she is the worst person ever. She was greedy she got what she wanted, but in reality it’s all material and she has lost all me and the family on her side because of it, but I can tell you now, she’s ok with it.

She has even admitted that she is not going to be with her son when she dies and she doesn’t want to because her mother stole him from her because sure when he was growing up he had a better relationship with his grandmother.

But what do you expect when your mother conceives you from an affair with a married person who doesn’t want anything to with you, so she then tries to give you a father of whom she meets at the local mental hospital who then kills your pets in front of you, tried to kill his ex wife and burns your toys and sends you to foster care, then she realizes this is not the guy and subsequently starts dating your 15yr old good friend from school…I’m not sure it could of ended any better than it did and hell I’d be screaming for my grandmother! His mother believes otherwise.

She’s got issues, she is a true greedy monster in-law and it’s all about control for the greedy person even though they are so out of control they are too delusional to see that.

Mariah's avatar

Taking a different approach, I’d say it is the result of natural selection/evolution. Those that have a lot of resources are more apt to survive successfully. The trait of desire for more and more resources is an advantageous one and so we have evolved to have it. It is what it is, but it’s unfortunate.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Some people will always want more, no matter how much they already have. To them, “things” are power, and they develop a craving for that power. It’s simply a personality flaw.

Coloma's avatar

Mostly it’s ego and an attachment to “more.”

It is not in the getting but in the wanting that keeps people on this roll.
Once one thing has been attained it satisfies for a short while til the ego needs more.

Compulsive anything, shopping, food, sex, drugs, etc. is always about one’s inability to be comfortable within themselves on a deep emotional level, hence the need to fill up the inner self from the outside and the ceaseless pursuit of things keeps the focus of the real issue which is an inner void that can only be filled from within, not without.

EmptyNest's avatar

Maybe they figure it works for them. Very sad, for truly they have received their reward in full.

gondwanalon's avatar

To me the word greed has both unhealthy and unlawful aspects. Greedy people are like Barnie Madoff or Charles Ponzi who break the law in order to achieve their wealth. I don’t consider people like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, professional sports players or actors greedy because they have honestly earned their fortunes.

YARNLADY's avatar

While it is probably a hold over from an evolutionary required trait, it is a psychological aberration in our society, as is most criminal behavior.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I’ve heard that it’s more of a survival technique, that all species are looking for ways to improve their life and increase their likelihood of survival. And, you are more likely to survive if you have more money; you can pay for more medical care, for better doctors, for better lawyers, to bribe executioners, etc if you have more money. People don’t see it as being greedy and taking away from others, but rather as making sure they’re going to be ok, even if (god forbid) something should happen.

HungryGuy's avatar

I guess it’s just human nature to want more than you have at the present. In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with that. But when you start impoverishing other people in the name of “business” in order to boost your own relative economic standing, that’s evil.

dannyc's avatar

Stupidity. Their minds are not capable of processing any more than vacuousness and entitlement.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed for lack of a better word is good.
Greed is right.
Greed works.
Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.

Greed, in all of its forms greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.

And greed you mark my words will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.
Gordon Gekko; Wall Street

He Who Dies With The Most Toys Wins

All of life is a pissing contest, the sooner kids get that in their head, the better off they will be. That is why scores are kept in sports. Only in real life no one is handing out 3ft plastic trophies that has not baring on anything. What is real, and a way to measure how high up that ladder you made it is the size of your home, how many extra houses you have, how large your watercraft is, if you can jet anywhere without having to take your shoes off, if you have to drive yourself, clean your own house, cook your own means. If you do drive your daily driver cost as much, or more than your gardener spent for his house, etc. It is just a byproduct of life. That is why people want more. Does one stop when they get one useless plastic trophy, or do they keep trying to get more to go with it?

Meego's avatar

Yeah, and nowadays plastic trophys are your credit card, handed to you right from the devil himself as he sets a fine example to us with greed written all over his face.

josie's avatar

I think there are more critics of greedy people than there are actual greedy people.
Most of the people that I know who are vocal critics of greed simply wish they had the greedy person’s money, but are unwilling, unable, or not competent enough to make it themselves. In some cases they vote for politicians who are more than willing to take it.
Isn’t the question sort of like asking why athletes want to keep winning? How many gold medals and trophies and pennants to you need?

dabbler's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Gee whiz that was a movie, and the Gordon Gecko character was presented as exemplary of what’s wrong with greed, not a role model. If you mean that his philosophy shows how a narrow logic can seem to allow, justify and motivate the greedy character, you are correct.

As Chris Hayes keenly notes in a recent article on the flaws of meritocracy: “Without qualities like wisdom, judgement, empathy and ethical rigor, extreme intelligence can be extremely destructive.” The Gecko code of greed fits that description. The motivation is always an unfortunately narrow definition of the benefits of such behavior.

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