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Unilever Research Prize 2021 for research into greed and buying behavior

Published: 24th November 2021 Last updated: 29th November 2021

Economic psychology student Vanessa Rettkowski has won the Unilever Research Prize 2021 with her master thesis on greed and buying behavior. This prize is awarded annually to talented students who graduate on a theme that touches on Unilever's Global Goals (in line with the sustainable development goals). Vanessa researched the role of greed in how people react to missing out on offers.

Vanessa Rettkowski

Vanessa was awarded the prize during the online award ceremony on Thursday, November 25. The jury report praised Vanessa as a smart, and highly motivated student, who has shown initiative, independence and perseverance.

The best offer

As a consumer, after missing out on a very good bargain, will you accept a good bargain deal even if it is inferior to the one that you have missed afterwards? And what is the role of greed in this decision: Is the buying behavior of greedy people triggered by wanting the best or wanting the most? Vanessa's research showed that more greedy people are less likely to postpone their purchase and more likely to go for the lesser offer. It seems they have less of a problem with missing out on a good discount, and are more easily triggered to buy anyway.

Tackling unrestricted consumption

Unilever's panel report states that Vanessa’s research offers important insights into how greed can drive consumers to respond to discounts, even in situations where non-greedy consumers would not. Unrestricted consumption needs to be addressed and people need to be encouraged to engage in environmentally friendly behaviors. Behavioral insights can help to better understand where insatiability comes from among consumers and how to solve this problem.

More information

Vanessa Rettkowski graduated cum laude last year with a Master's degree in Economic Psychology and is now pursuing her PhD in Mannheim. Greed is a major research topic within the Department of Social Psychology. Read more about greed research by Professor of Economic Psychology and greed expert Marcel Zeelenberg: “Human behavior eventually always makes the difference