Psychology and the Market
by Edward L. Glaeser. Reading for week of February 22, 2005.
Published: Tuesday, February 15, 2005Prospect theory, loss aversion, mental accounts, hyperbolic discounting, cues, and the endowment effect can all be seen as examples of situationalism -- the view that people isolate decisions and overweight immediate aspects of the situation relative to longer term concerns. But outside of the laboratory, emotionally-powerful situational factors -- frames, social influence, mental accounts -- are almost always endogenous and often the result of self-interested entrepreneurs. As such, laboratory work and, indeed, psychology more generally, gives us little guidance as to market outcomes. Economics provides a stronger basis for understanding the supply of emotionally-relevant situational variables. Paradoxically situationalism actually increases the relative importance of economics.
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