Thursday, September 27, 2007

Decisions, decisions

Text and video from a masterclass by Daniel Kahneman, co-founder of behavioral economics. Even at the University of Chicago, where the economic actors are often assumed to be perfectly "rational", his research has made a big impact...yet for whatever reason, behavioral economics are not integrated into the curriculum from the start. Everyone still learns the neoclassical models, which have the great advantage of being straightforward, mathematically tractable, and very flexible, but which have the disadvantage of being wrong.

And by wrong I mean "out of line with the way human beings actually operate", which means in turn that they're going to give you incorrect predictions in a lot of cases. We knew this when we learned the models, but everyone "forgets" this fact in the effort to pass the classes. Since economic models correctly lead one to some fairly counterintuitive results, it's easy to think that all counterintuitive results are therefore correct, instead of thinking about the motivations underlying the decision.

No comments: