IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Crossing the Rubicon


  • Amitai Etzioni


Economists tend to assume that preferences are given and stable. This allows them to explain changes in behavior largely in terms of variables such as changes in income and relative prices, and more generally in terms of incentives and disincentives. However, sociologists and psychologists have shown that preferences are formed during socialization and continue to be reformulated during adulthood through factors such as persuasion, leadership, and advertising. Hence when comparing behavior at two points in time, one must take into account changes in preferences that may well have occurred during the given period. The challenge is that there is no consolidated theory of what factors drive preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Amitai Etzioni, 2014. "Crossing the Rubicon," Challenge, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 57(2), pages 65-79.
  • Handle: RePEc:mes:challe:v:57:y:2014:i:2:p:65-79
    DOI: 10.2753/0577-5132570205

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    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.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
    2. Witt, Ulrich, 1991. "Economics, sociobiology and behavioral psychology on preferences," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 557-573, December.
    3. Kapteyn, Arie & Wansbeek, Tom & Buyze, Jeannine, 1980. "The dynamics of preference formation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 123-157, June.
    4. Drakopoulos, Stavros A., 2012. "The History Of Attitudes Towards Interdependent Preferences," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 34(04), pages 541-557, December.
    5. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Franz Dietrich & Christian List, 2013. "Where do preferences come from?," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 42(3), pages 613-637, August.
    7. Kareen Rozen, 2010. "Foundations of Intrinsic Habit Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(4), pages 1341-1373, July.
    8. Etzioni, Amitai, 1985. "Opening the preferences: A Socio-economic research agenda," Journal of Behavioral Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 183-198.
    9. Bryan G. Norton, 1994. "Economists' Preferences and the Preferences of Economists," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 3(4), pages 311-332, November.
    10. John Ermisch, 1988. "Economic Influences On Birth Rates," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 126(1), pages 71-92, November.
    11. Nuno Martins, 2011. "Can neuroscience inform economics? Rationality, emotions and preference formation," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(2), pages 251-267.
    12. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-846, July-Aug..
    13. Franz Dietrich & Christian List, 2013. "Where do preferences come from? A summary," Post-Print halshs-00978022, HAL.
    14. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Soss, Neal M, 1974. "An Economic Theory of Suicide," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 83-98, Jan.-Feb..
    15. Ken Binmore, 2010. "Social norms or social preferences?," Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Springer;Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 9(2), pages 139-157, December.
    16. Li Way Lee, 1997. "Persuasive Advertizing and Socialization," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(2), pages 203-214.
    17. Franz Dietrich & Christian List, 2013. "Where do preferences come from? A summary," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00978022, HAL.
    18. repec:cup:apsrev:v:81:y:1987:i:01:p:3-21_19 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    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:mes:challe:v:57:y:2014:i:2:p:65-79. 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: (Chris Longhurst). 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.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 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.