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Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 10 No. 1 (Winter 1996)

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Does Studying Economics Discourage Cooperation? Watch What We Do, Not What We Say or How We Play

Article Citation

Yezer, Anthony M., Robert S. Goldfarb, and Paul J. Poppen. 1996. "Does Studying Economics Discourage Cooperation? Watch What We Do, Not What We Say or How We Play." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 10(1): 177-186.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.10.1.177

Abstract

Based on what economics students say and how they play games, economics students appear less cooperative than other students. But appearances can be deceiving: the evidence in this paper indicates that the actual behavior of economics students is more cooperative than that of other students. The authors carried out a 'lost letter' experiment, in which envelopes containing currency were dropped in classrooms and the return rate measured. In this test of actual behavior, the economics students returned a significantly larger percentage of lost letters, exhibiting more cooperative behavior than other students.

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Authors

Yezer, Anthony M. (George Washington U)
Goldfarb, Robert S. (George Washington U)
Poppen, Paul J. (George Washington U)

JEL Classifications

A11: Role of Economics; Role of Economists
A20: Economic Education and Teaching of Economics: General

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