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


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Do Economists Make Bad Citizens?

Article Citation

Frank, Robert H., Thomas D. Gilovich, and Dennis T. Regan. 1996. "Do Economists Make Bad Citizens?" Journal of Economic Perspectives, 10(1): 187-192.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.10.1.187


Although field experiments and classroom surveys are ambiguous about whether economists are less likely than others to cooperate in social dilemmas, three important points remain clear: economics training encourages the view that people are motivated primarily by self-interest; there is clear evidence that this view leads people to expect others to defect in social dilemmas; and there is also evidence that, when people expect partners to defect, they are overwhelmingly likely to defect themselves. These points' logical implications appear to place a heavy burden of proof on those who insist economics training does not inhibit cooperation.

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Frank, Robert H. (Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell U)
Gilovich, Thomas D. (Cornell U)
Regan, Dennis T. (Cornell U)

JEL Classifications

A11: Role of Economics; Role of Economists
A13: Relation of Economics to Social Values


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