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On the Potential of Neuroeconomics: A Critical (but Hopeful) Appraisal

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  • B. Douglas Bernheim

Abstract

This paper attempts to identify and articulate the specific ways in which the emerging field of neuroeconomics might shed light on traditional positive and normative questions in economics, as well as the likely limitations of its potential contributions. It sets forth both reservations and reasons for guarded optimism. (JEL D01, D87)

Suggested Citation

  • B. Douglas Bernheim, 2009. "On the Potential of Neuroeconomics: A Critical (but Hopeful) Appraisal," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 1-41, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:1:y:2009:i:2:p:1-41
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.1.2.1
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2007. "Beyond Revealed Preference Choice Theoretic Foundations for Behavioral Welfare Economics," Discussion Papers 07-031, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    2. Camelia Kuhnen & Brian Knutson, 2005. "The Neural Basis of Financial Risk Taking," Experimental 0509001, EconWPA.
    3. B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2009. "Beyond Revealed Preference: Choice-Theoretic Foundations for Behavioral Welfare Economics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(1), pages 51-104.
    4. Vincent P. Crawford & Miguel A. Costa-Gomes, 2006. "Cognition and Behavior in Two-Person Guessing Games: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1737-1768, December.
    5. Dan Ariely & George Loewenstein & Drazen Prelec, 2003. ""Coherent Arbitrariness": Stable Demand Curves Without Stable Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 73-106.
    6. Sen, Amartya K, 1973. "Behaviour and the Concept of Preference," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 40(159), pages 241-259, August.
    7. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2005. "The Case for Mindless Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 784828000000000581, David K. Levine.
    8. Joseph Tao-yi Wang & Michael Spezio & Colin F. Camerer, 2006. "Pinocchio's Pupil: Using Eyetracking and Pupil Dilation to Understand Truth-telling and Deception in Games," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000042, UCLA Department of Economics.
    9. Glimcher, Paul W. & Dorris, Michael C. & Bayer, Hannah M., 2005. "Physiological utility theory and the neuroeconomics of choice," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 213-256, August.
    10. List, John A. & Shogren, Jason F., 2002. "Calibration of Willingness-to-Accept," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 219-233, March.
    11. Aldo Rustichini, 2004. "An Economist's view on Neuroeconomics," 2004 Meeting Papers 589, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    12. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2009. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1145-1177, September.
    13. Rustichini, Aldo, 2005. "Neuroeconomics: Present and future," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 201-212, August.
    14. Andreoni, James & Scholz, John Karl, 1998. "An Econometric Analysis of Charitable Giving with Interdependent Preferences," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(3), pages 410-428, July.
    15. B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2004. "Addiction and Cue-Triggered Decision Processes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1558-1590, December.
    16. Mandler, Michael & Manzini, Paola & Mariotti, Marco, 2012. "A million answers to twenty questions: Choosing by checklist," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(1), pages 71-92.
    17. John A. List & Robert P. Berrens & Alok K. Bohara & Joe Kerkvliet, 2004. "Examining the Role of Social Isolation on Stated Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 741-752, June.
    18. Bernheim, B. Douglas, 2002. "Taxation and saving," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 18, pages 1173-1249 Elsevier.
    19. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
    20. B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2007. "Toward Choice-Theoretic Foundations for Behavioral Welfare Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 464-470, May.
    21. Colin F. Camerer & George Loewenstein & Drazen Prelec, 2004. "Neuroeconomics: Why Economics Needs Brains," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(3), pages 555-579, October.
    22. Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "A Memory-Based Model of Bounded Rationality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 735-774.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Roberto Fumagalli, 2016. "Decision sciences and the new case for paternalism: three welfare-related justificatory challenges," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 47(2), pages 459-480, August.
    2. Ingela Alger & Donald Cox, 2013. "The evolution of altruistic preferences: mothers versus fathers," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 421-446, September.
    3. Barnea, Amir & Cronqvist, Henrik & Siegel, Stephan, 2010. "Nature or nurture: What determines investor behavior?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(3), pages 583-604, December.
    4. Cronqvist, Henrik & Siegel, Stephan, 2014. "The genetics of investment biases," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 113(2), pages 215-234.
    5. James Alm & Carolyn J. Bourdeaux, 2013. "Applying Behavioral Economics to the Public Sector," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 206(3), pages 91-134, September.
    6. Alec Smith & B. Douglas Bernheim & Colin F. Camerer & Antonio Rangel, 2014. "Neural Activity Reveals Preferences without Choices," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 1-36, May.
    7. Arno Riedl, 2009. "Behavioral and Experimental Economics Can Inform Public Policy: Some Thoughts," CESifo Working Paper Series 2902, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Varma, Jayanth R., 2011. "Finance Teaching and Research after the Global Financial Crisis," IIMA Working Papers WP2011-03-02, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Research and Publication Department.
    9. repec:ibn:ijmsjn:v:10:y:2018:i:1:p:90-106 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Henrik Cronqvist & Florian Münkel & Stephan Siegel, 2014. "Genetics, Homeownership, and Home Location Choice," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 48(1), pages 79-111, January.
    11. repec:qut:qubewp:wp003 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. David Hirshleife, 2015. "Behavioral Finance," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 7(1), pages 133-159, December.
    13. Gerard Caprio & Paul Bide, 2008. "Discussion of 'Financial Innovation: What Have We Learnt?'," RBA Annual Conference Volume,in: Paul Bloxham & Christopher Kent (ed.), Lessons from the Financial Turmoil of 2007 and 2008 Reserve Bank of Australia.
    14. Cary Frydman & Nicholas Barberis & Colin Camerer & Peter Bossaerts & Antonio Rangel, 2012. "Using Neural Data to Test a Theory of Investor Behavior: An Application to Realization Utility," NBER Working Papers 18562, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D87 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Neuroeconomics

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