Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 7 No. 2 (Spring 1993)


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Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation?

Article Citation

Frank, Robert H., Thomas Gilovich, and Dennis T. Regan. 1993. "Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation?" Journal of Economic Perspectives, 7(2): 159-171.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.7.2.159


In this paper we investigate whether exposure to the self-interest model commonly used in economics alters the extent to which people behave in self-interested ways. First, we report the results of several empirical studies—some our own, some by others—that suggest economists behave in more self-interested ways. By itself, this evidence does not demonstrate that exposure to the self-interest model causes more self-interested behavior, since it may be that economists were simply more self-interested to begin with, and this difference was one reason they chose to study economics. Second, we present preliminary evidence that exposure to the self-interest model does in fact encourage self-interested behavior.

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Frank, Robert H. (Cornell U)
Gilovich, Thomas (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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