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Economics and the self: A formalisation of self-determination theory

  • Pugno, Maurizio

This paper introduces the concept of self in economics by providing a formalisation of the authoritative approach in empirical psychology called Self-Determination Theory [Deci, E.L., Ryan, R.M., 2000. The "what" and "why" of goal pursuits: human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry 11, 227-268]. It shows that the self, as a psychological endowment of autonomy, competence, and relatedness, is important in individuals' ability to choose, and it changes as an unconscious consequence of their choices. If the individuals' psychological endowment is sufficiently great, then they choose more goods and activities which will satisfy their basic psychological needs, i.e. those for autonomy, competence, and relatedness, thus triggering a virtuous circle of self-development, and greater enjoyment of well-being. If the individuals are not sufficiently able, they choose less satisfying activities, thus triggering a vicious circle of self-deterioration, and reduced well-being. Shocks are important for these dynamics, especially during the first parts of their life cycle. This model can be applied to puzzling cases where material incentives and costs fail to account for expected behaviours like addiction and self-destructive behaviour, job satisfaction and responsible economic behaviour, or striving for greater affluence without experiencing greater happiness.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics).

Volume (Year): 37 (2008)
Issue (Month): 4 (August)
Pages: 1328-1346

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Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:37:y:2008:i:4:p:1328-1346
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/620175

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  1. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  2. Bruno Frey & Matthias Benz & Alois Stutzer, 2004. "Introducing Procedural Utility: Not Only What, but Also How Matters," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 160(3), pages 377-, September.
  3. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocitys," IEW - Working Papers 040, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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  6. Maurizio Pugno, 2005. "The happiness paradox: a formal explanation from psycho-economics," Department of Economics Working Papers 0501, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
  7. Thaler, Richard H & Shefrin, H M, 1981. "An Economic Theory of Self-Control," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(2), pages 392-406, April.
  8. Tomer, John F., 2001. "Addictions are not rational: a socio-economic model of addictive behavior," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 243-261, May.
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  12. Corneo, Giacomo & Jeanne, Olivier, 2001. "On relative-wealth effects and long-run growth," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 349-358, December.
  13. Paul, Maureen, 2006. "A cross-section analysis of the fairness-of-pay perception of UK employees," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 243-267, April.
  14. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1986. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 41, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  15. Slovic, Paul & Finucane, Melissa & Peters, Ellen & MacGregor, Donald G., 2002. "Rational actors or rational fools: implications of the affect heuristic for behavioral economics," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 329-342.
  16. Tirole, Jean, 2002. "Rational irrationality: Some economics of self-management," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 633-655, May.
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