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The Homer economicus narrative: from cognitive psychology to individual public policies

Guilhem Lecouteux

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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 characteristics of the socio-economic environment that influence individuals' behaviours.

Keywords: homo economicus; rational choice; replication crisis; behaviourally informed policy; Homer Simpson and Mr Spock (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2023
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-hme, nep-hpe and nep-neu
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Published in Journal of Economic Methodology, 2023, The Soul of Economics, 30 (2), pp.176-187. ⟨10.1080/1350178X.2023.2192222⟩

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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:hal:journl:hal-03791951

DOI: 10.1080/1350178X.2023.2192222

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