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Toward a cognitive science of markets: Economic agents as sense-makers

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  • Johnson, Samuel G. B.

Abstract

Behavioral economics aspires to replace the agents of neoclassical economics with living, breathing human beings. Here, the author argues that behavioral economics, like its neoclassical counterpart, often neglects the role of active sense-making that motivates and guides much human behavior. The author reviews what is known about the cognitive science of sense-making, describing three kinds of cognitive tools-hypothesis-inference heuristics, stories, and intuitive theories-that people use to structure and understand information. He illustrates how these ideas from cognitive science can illuminate puzzles in economics, such as decision under Knightian uncertainty, the dynamics of economic (in)stability, and the voters' preferences over economic policies. He concludes that cognitive science more broadly can enhance the explanatory and predictive quality of behavioral economic theories.

Suggested Citation

  • Johnson, Samuel G. B., 2019. "Toward a cognitive science of markets: Economic agents as sense-makers," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal (2007-2020), Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel), vol. 13, pages 1-29.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifweej:201949
    DOI: 10.5018/economics-ejournal.ja.2019-49
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    cognitive science; behavioral economics; experimental economics; behavioral finance; economics methodology; information processing; decision-making under uncertainty;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • B4 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics
    • E7 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macro-Based Behavioral Economics
    • G4 - Financial Economics - - Behavioral Finance

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