When enough is not enough: Overearning as a manifestation of dispositional greed

Marcel Zeelenberg*, Terri G. Seuntjens, Niels van de Ven, Seger M. Breugelmans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Overearning is the tendency to forgo leisure and to earn more than one needs. Despite the important individual and societal consequences of overearning, little is known about who overearns and why. We examined the role of dispositional greed in explaining overearning. Study 1, an incentivized behavioral lab study (N = 153), found that greedy individuals showed overearning to a larger degree than less greedy individuals. A follow-up survey (N = 297) suggested that greedy people overearn more because they find the pursuit of wealth more important, not because they find the associated labor less aversive. Consistent with these findings, Study 2 (N = 472), finds that greedy people value money more than time, a pattern associated with lower well-being. Finally, Study 3, another incentivized behavioral lab study with two measurement moments (Ntime-1 = 185; Ntime-2 = 133), replicated and extended the findings of Study 1 to a longitudinal context. People do appear to learn from overearning in the past, as overearning was reduced from time 1 to time 2. However, even at time 2, overearning was observed and greedy individuals showed a larger degree of overearning. Implications for what we can do to prevent overearning and increase well-being are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110155
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Early online date10 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2020


  • Dispositional greed scale
  • Greed
  • Overearning
  • Pursuit of wealth
  • Well-being
  • Work


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