IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Observing Attitudes, Intentions, and Expectations (1945–73)


  • José M. Edwards


Although involved in projects of influential institutions like the Cowles Commission, the NBER, and the Michigan Survey Research Center, George Katona, the “pioneer student and chief collector of consumer anticipations data” (Tobin 1959, 1), is virtually absent from accounts of the topics he worked on, including the study of aggregate consumption and the development of behavioral economics. This essay argues that such an absence is partly explained by the theoretical underpinnings of Katona’s project, which were incompatible with the economic views of consumer behavior that dominated from the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s. It proceeds by comparing alternative survey programs funded by the Federal Reserve during that period, and analyzing the ensuing controversy on the purposes of the observation of attitudes, intentions, and expectations. It claims that understanding Katona’s approach “required a real restructuring of thought—a genuine paradigm shift” (Simon 1979, 12). That such a shift was required gives interest to this historical episode.

Suggested Citation

  • José M. Edwards, 2012. "Observing Attitudes, Intentions, and Expectations (1945–73)," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 44(5), pages 137-159, Supplemen.
  • Handle: RePEc:hop:hopeec:v:44:y:2012:i:5:p:137-159

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    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 search for a different version of it.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hop:hopeec:v:44:y:2012:i:5:p:137-159. 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). General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.