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The Economic Approach to Personality, Character and Virtue

James J. Heckman, Bridget Galaty and Haihan Tian

No 31258, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: This chapter presents an economic approach to character and personality traits with an application to the study of virtue. Economists interpret psychological traits, including character traits and virtue, as strategies that shape responses to situations (actions) determined by underlying endowments, preferences, resources, as well as incentives to act in situations. Philosophers of virtue consider it to be a certain kind of practice in pursuit of a worthy goal. Psychologists consider it to be a trait or endowment and many adopt this point of view. Character traits and personality are not considered immutable in any field. They are shaped by genetics, parents, peers, and schools, as well as by habituation, imitation, and life experiences. We develop economic models to interpret and give empirical content to virtue ethics and suggest what the study of virtue ethics contributes to the study of society.

JEL-codes: I24 J13 J24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2023-05
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hpe
Note: CH
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