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The Homer Economicus Narrative: From Cognitive Psychology to Individual Public Policies

Guilhem Lecouteux

No 2022-29, GREDEG Working Papers from Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), Université Côte d'Azur, France

Abstract: A common narrative among some behavioural economists and policy makers is that experimental psychology highlights that individuals are more like Homer Simpson than the Mr Spock imagined by neoclassical economics, and that this justifies policies aiming to 'correct' individual behaviours. This narrative is central to nudging policies and suggests that a better understanding of individual cognition will lead to better policy prescriptions. I argue that this Homer economicus narrative is methodologically flawed, and that its emphasis on cognition advances a distorted view of public policies consisting in fixing malfunctioning individuals, while ignoring the possibly malfunctioning environment within which they evolve.

Keywords: Homer Simpson and Mr Spock; homo economicus; rational choice; replication crisis; behaviourally informed policy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A12 B41 C91 D04 D91 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 23 pages
Date: 2022-09
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-hme, nep-hpe and nep-neu
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Journal Article: The Homer economicus narrative: from cognitive psychology to individual public policies (2023) Downloads
Working Paper: The Homer economicus narrative: from cognitive psychology to individual public policies (2023)
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