Economics and Greed
28 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2009 Last revised: 4 Nov 2009
Date Written: October 14, 2009
Greed is a classic topic in human development (Balot, 2001; Robertson, 2001) and it inevitably affects many of our choices and decisions. Although greed is typically viewed as uniformly negative and reprehensible, we propose that people's attitudes and opinions about greed are actually subject to change. In particular, studying economics may help legitimize and even beautify greed. Previous research shows that economics education might make people more self-interested because self-interest maximization is central to most economic models (Marwell & Ames, 1981; Frank, et al, 1993). Because greed and maximizing self-interest are sometimes difficult to separate, conceptually or empirically, we propose that studying economics may make people view greed as potentially positive and beneficial. Two complementary studies support our proposition. Study 1 shows that students who are pursuing economics view greed more positively than students who are pursuing other majors and taking other courses. Study 2 indicates that positively priming greed can significantly increase people's positive attitudes and opinions about greed.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation