IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Marginal to the Revolution: The Curious Relationship between Economics and the Behavioral Sciences Movement in Mid-Twentieth-Century America

  • Jefferson Pooley
  • Mark Solovey
Registered author(s):

    American economics largely ignored the behavioral sciences movement in the decade after World War II. The social scientists who adopted the “behavioral sciences” moniker were self-consciously nomothetic, fond of mathematics and statistical analysis, and eager to stand close to the natural sciences. The same was true of leading postwar economists, and yet they alone opted out, with only a few exceptions. We explore this divide as it emerged in the early development of the Ford Foundation's Behavioral Sciences Program (BSP). We describe early efforts to incorporate economics into the BSP in a substantial manner, premised on the belief that economic analysis could be greatly strengthened by the behavioral science orientation, with its emphasis on rigorous empirical study of actual human behavior. Yet these efforts failed, in large part because economists, especially those commonly labeled “neoclassical,” were uninterested, skeptical, and even dismissive of what they took to be an immature and faddish initiative. Gaps in postwar prestige and clashing models of social science contributed to the Ford Foundation's decision to fund economics on a separate track from the other social sciences. In our account, the adoption of the “behavioral sciences” terminology in tandem with the movement's institutional anchoring at the Ford Foundation thus reflected and widened the split between economists and their counterparts in the other social sciences.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL: http://hope.dukejournals.org/content/42/Suppl_1/199.full.pdf+html
    File Function: link to full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Duke University Press in its journal History of Political Economy.

    Volume (Year): 42 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 5 (Supplement)
    Pages: 199-233

    as
    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:hop:hopeec:v:42:y:2010:i:5:p:199-233
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Duke University Press 905 W. Main Street, Suite 18B Durham, NC 27701
    Phone: (919) 660-1800
    Fax: (919) 684-8974
    Web page: http://www.dukeupress.edu/Catalog/ViewProduct.php?viewby=journal&productid=45614

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hop:hopeec:v:42:y:2010:i:5:p:199-233. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Center for the History of Political Economy Webmaster)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.