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Why process matters: A social cognition perspective on economic behavior

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  • Crusius, Jan
  • van Horen, Femke
  • Mussweiler, Thomas
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    Abstract

    Much research on economic behavior has been devoted to demonstrating deviations from standard economic theories. Such descriptive research has proven invaluable in showing that systematic violations of the norm occur frequently in human decision making. Here, we advocate a shift to a more process-focused research approach aimed at uncovering the why of economic behavior. We provide several examples highlighting that seemingly similar phenomena can be governed by very different psychological processes, that the same processes can have explanatory power in very different domains, and that the situational context is a crucial determinant of the mental processes governing behavior. In doing so, we advocate a social-cognitive perspective on economic behavior, aimed at revealing the psychological mechanisms that shape how people construe a particular situation. We hope that such a perspective can contribute to theoretical and empirical integration, novel predictions, and more precise strategies to change behavior.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Psychology.

    Volume (Year): 33 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 677-685

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:33:y:2012:i:3:p:677-685

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/joep

    Related research

    Keywords: Social cognition; Psychological processes; Economic psychology; Behavioral economics;

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    References

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    1. Carmon, Ziv & Ariely, Dan, 2000. " Focusing on the Forgone: How Value Can Appear So Different to Buyers and Sellers," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(3), pages 360-70, December.
    2. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory Of Fairness, Competition, And Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868, August.
    3. Babcock, Linda & Wang, Xianghong & Lowenstein, George, 1996. "Choosing the Wrong Pond: Social Comparisons in Negotiations That Reflect a Self-Serving Bias," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(1), pages 1-19, February.
    4. Dhananjay Nayakankuppam & Himanshu Mishra, 2005. "The Endowment Effect: Rose-Tinted and Dark-Tinted Glasses," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(3), pages 390-395, December.
    5. Chapman, Gretchen B. & Johnson, Eric J., 1999. "Anchoring, Activation, and the Construction of Values, , , , , ," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 115-153, August.
    6. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1325-48, December.
    7. Leiser, David & Azar, Ofer H. & Hadar, Liat, 2008. "Psychological construal of economic behavior," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 762-776, November.
    8. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
    9. Kay, Aaron C. & Wheeler, S. Christian & Bargh, John A. & Ross, Lee, 2004. "Material priming: The influence of mundane physical objects on situational construal and competitive behavioral choice," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 83-96, September.
    10. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
    11. Loewenstein, George, 2001. " The Creative Destruction of Decision Research," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(3), pages 499-505, December.
    12. Mussweiler, Thomas & Englich, Birte, 2005. "Subliminal anchoring: Judgmental consequences and underlying mechanisms," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 133-143, November.
    13. Thaler, Richard, 1980. "Toward a positive theory of consumer choice," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 39-60, March.
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    Cited by:
    1. Meub, Lukas & Proeger, Till & Bizer, Kilian, 2013. "Anchoring: A valid explanation for biased forecasts when rational predictions are easily accessible and well incentivized?," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 166, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    2. Meub, Lukas & Proeger, Till, 2014. "Are groups 'less behavioral'? The case of anchoring," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 188, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    3. Meub, Lukas & Proeger, Till, 2014. "An experimental study on social anchoring," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 196, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    4. Luchini, Stéphane & Watson, Verity, 2013. "Uncertainty and framing in a valuation task," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 204-214.
    5. Mira Fischer & Sebastian Lotz, 2014. "Is Soft Paternalism Ethically Legitimate? - The Relevance of Psychological Processes for the Assessment of Nudge-Based Policies," Cologne Graduate School Working Paper Series 05-02, Cologne Graduate School in Management, Economics and Social Sciences.
    6. Lotz, Sebastian & Schlösser, Thomas & Cain, Daylian M. & Fetchenhauer, Detlef, 2013. "The (in)stability of social preferences: Using justice sensitivity to predict when altruism collapses," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 141-148.

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