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Are economists different? economic model

  • Jitka Šeneklová
  • Jiří Špalek

One of the key assumptions of neoclassical economics is the existence of the rational individual, who always tries to maximize his or her utility. The paper shows possibilities of experimental evaluation of this hypothesis with respect to the various groups of people who undertake the experiment. Our experiments try to (1) Evaluate real outcomes of model situations, and (2) Find differences between various groups of treated people with respect to our main research question - whether economists behave more selfishly than any other group of people. We employed game theory and its fundamental models - Prisoner's dilemma and Ultimate and Dictator Games. In accordance to previous foreign experiments, we conclude that in real situations people behave in a much less self-interested way than predicted by the economic model. In situations favouring free-riding, people voluntarily contributed to public goods. According to the results of our experiments, the hypothesis that economists are more likely to act for their own self interest cannot be rejected. In both experiments economists behaved in a self interested way, but these results were not prevailing.

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Article provided by University of Economics, Prague in its journal Politická ekonomie.

Volume (Year): 2009 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 21-47

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Handle: RePEc:prg:jnlpol:v:2009:y:2009:i:1:id:668:p:21-47
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  1. Mark Isaac, R. & McCue, Kenneth F. & Plott, Charles R., 1985. "Public goods provision in an experimental environment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 51-74, February.
  2. Marwell, Gerald & Ames, Ruth E., 1981. "Economists free ride, does anyone else? : Experiments on the provision of public goods, IV," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 295-310, June.
  3. Anthony M. Yezer & Robert S. Goldfarb & Paul J. Poppen, 1996. "Does Studying Economics Discourage Cooperation? Watch What We Do, Not What We Say or How We Play," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 177-186, Winter.
  4. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 1997. "Classroom Games: Voluntary Provision of a Public Good," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 209-215, Fall.
  5. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521456821 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Robert H. Frank & Thomas Gilovich & Dennis T. Regan, 1993. "Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 159-171, Spring.
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