What Causes Greed?

Some causes of greed include psychological addiction, self-doubt or other negative feelings, narcissism, and an unconscious correlation between wealth and self-worth, according to Psychology Today. Greed is defined as excessive desire, especially for wealth or possessions.

The roots of true greed stem from genuine psychological addiction. Excessively greedy individuals derive their main feelings of pleasure from the accumulation of money and material possessions. For the greediest individuals, there is no endpoint to the gathering of wealth, and no set amount of money can ever be satisfactory. Gaining wealth creates a release of dopamine in the brain, causing these individuals to relentlessly desire more money and more possessions.

An addiction to greed may come from deep-seated feelings of inadequacy, depression, loneliness, anxiety or other negative feelings. Greedy individuals may attempt to stave off these feelings through the accumulation of a fortune. Their wealth may allow them to fool themselves into thinking they have no problems or that all problems can be solved by money. Greed also frequently leads to narcissism. Many greedy people are highly concerned with their self-image and accumulate extravagant possessions to serve as status symbols.

The greediest individuals often mistakenly correlate money with feelings of self-worth. They may perceive their fortune as a substitute for virtues such as friendship, love or loyalty. These individuals may become suicidal if they experience a significant financial loss, because so much of their self-image is tied up with money.