How economics makes you selfishby Toby Manhire
Research suggests economics attracts greedy students. And the subject makes them greedier.
That’s according to a stack of research surveyed by Adam Grant, writing for Psychology Today.
Evidence from the US indicates that “economics professors gave less money to charity than professors in other fields”, he explains. A German study finds that “economics students were more likely than students from other majors to recommend an overpriced plumber when they were paid to do it”.
Other research suggests variously that economics students are carved out of Adam Smith: they demonstrate “greater acceptance of greed”, “less concern for fairness”.
What is more, “altruistic values drop among economics majors”, and “after taking economics, students become more selfish and expect worse of others”.
In one study Grant and colleagues conducted they concluded, even, that “just thinking about economics can make us less caring”.
Grant, himself a business studies professor, says that alarming though this may be, the answer is not to stop studying economics, but to balance it with something that encourages less blinkered thinking.
He suggests “requiring economics majors to take courses in behavioural economics, which considers the role of ‘social preferences’ like fairness, altruism, cooperation, and even being rationally altruistic”, as well as “breadth courses in social sciences ... which place substantial emphasis on how people are concerned about others, not only themselves”.
But economics courses themselves should also “do a better job defining the principle of self-interest around utility, which involves anything a person values—including helping others”, he writes.
Without such remedies, Grant warns ...
... we may be dooming students and society to a fate foreshadowed by Nobel Prize-winning economist and philosopher Amartya Sen. Calling economists “rational fools,” Sen observed: “The purely economic man is indeed close to being a social moron.”
A stunning dining experience isn’t just about food and wine. Water plays a big part too.Read more
Facebook came under fire for its response to the live-streaming of the Christchurch terror attack, but it's digital nudging that's also concerning.Read more
Countries around the world have put on a show of solidarity for the victims of the Christchurch terror attack.Read more
Ms Ardern pledged the day after the terrorist massacre that "gun laws will change" and would be announced within 10 days of the attack.Read more
There is not one specific mention of the threat posed by white supremacists or right-wing nationalism in 10 years of security agency documents.Read more