The Economics of Meaning
In this paper we draw attention to an important motive – the desire for meaning – that drive considerable human behavior and economic activity, but has been largely ignored by economists. We distinguish four interpretations of meaning that differ in the degree to which they are amenable to modeling using the standard economic tools of utility maximization. These four interpretations are, in decreasing order of their amenability to modeling in conventional terms: (1) meaning as a resolution of preferences; (2), meaning as an extension of oneself either socially or temporally; (3) meaning as an act of making sense of one’s life; and (4) meaning as an assertion of free will. Drawing upon psychology and literature we analyze implications of these four interpretations of meaning for economics.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Dan Ariely & George Loewenstein & Drazen Prelec, 2003. ""Coherent Arbitrariness": Stable Demand Curves Without Stable Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 73-105, February.
- Loewenstein, George, 1987. "Anticipation and the Valuation of Delayed Consumption," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(387), pages 666-84, September.
- Loomes, Graham, 1988. "Further Evidence of the Impact of Regret and Disappointment in Choice under Uncertainty," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 55(217), pages 47-62, February.
- Loewenstein, George, 1999. "Because It Is There: The Challenge of Mountaineering . . . for Utility Theory," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(3), pages 315-43.
- Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2001.
"Psychological Expected Utility Theory And Anticipatory Feelings,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 55-79, February.
- Caplin, Andrew & Leahy, John, 1997. "Psychological Expected Utility Theory and Anticipatory Feelings," Working Papers 97-37, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
- Loomes, Graham & Sugden, Robert, 1982. "Regret Theory: An Alternative Theory of Rational Choice under Uncertainty," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(368), pages 805-24, December.
- Messick, David M., 1999. "Alternative logics for decision making in social settings," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 11-28, May.
- George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:noj:journl:v:30:y:2004:p:61-75. 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: (Halvor Mehlum)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.