IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Neuroconomics of Mind Reading and Empathy

  • Fehr, Ernst
  • Singer, Tania

The most fundamental solution concepts in Game Theory – Nash equilibrium, backward induction, and iterated elimination of dominated strategies – are based on the assumption that people are capable of predicting others' actions. These concepts require people to be able to view the game from the other players’ perspectives, i.e. to understand others’ motives and beliefs. Economists still know little about what enables people to put themselves into others’ shoes and how this ability interacts with their own preferences and beliefs. Social neuroscience provides insights into the neural mechanism underlying our capacity to represent others' intentions, beliefs, and desires, referred to as ‘Theory of Mind’ or ‘mentalizing’, and the capacity to share the feelings of others, referred to as ‘empathy’. We summarize the major findings about the neural basis of mentalizing and empathizing and discuss some implications for economics.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5128.

in new window

Date of creation: Jul 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5128
Contact details of provider: Postal: Centre for Economic Policy Research, 77 Bastwick Street, London EC1V 3PZ.
Phone: 44 - 20 - 7183 8801
Fax: 44 - 20 - 7183 8820

Order Information: Email:

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.:

as in new window
  1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 336, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. McCabe, Kevin & Houser, Daniel & Ryan, Lee & Smith, Vernon & Trouard, Ted, 2001. "A Functional Imaging Study of Cooperation in Two-Person reciprocal Exchange," MPRA Paper 5172, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. De Giorgi, Enrico & Post, Thierry, 2008. "Second-Order Stochastic Dominance, Reward-Risk Portfolio Selection, and the CAPM," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(02), pages 525-546, June.
  4. Gruetter, Max, 2005. "Returns to Foreign Education: Yet Another But Different Cross Country Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 1615, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Salvador Barberà & Anke Gerber, 2005. "A Note on the Impossibility of a Satisfactory Concept of Stability for Coalition Formation Games," Working Papers 248, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  6. Lalive, Rafael & Zweimüller, Josef, 2005. "Does Parental Leave Affect Fertility and Return-to-Work? Evidence from a "True Natural Experiment"," IZA Discussion Papers 1613, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Gruetter, Max & Lalive, Rafael, 2004. "The Importance of Firms in Wage Determination," IZA Discussion Papers 1367, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Bruno Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2014. "Economic Consequences of Mispredicting Utility," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 937-956, August.
  9. Tania Singer & Ernst Fehr, 2005. "The Neuroeconomics of Mind Reading and Empathy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 340-345, May.
  10. Christian Ewerhart, . "The Effect of Sunk Costs on the Outcome of Alternating-Offers Bargaining between Inequity-Averse Agents," IEW - Working Papers 203, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  11. Aleksander Berentsen & Gabriele Camera & Christopher Waller, 2005. "Money, Credit and Banking," CESifo Working Paper Series 1617, CESifo Group Munich.
  12. Aleksander Berentsen & Gabriele Camera & C hristopher W aller, 2005. "The Distribution Of Money Balances And The Nonneutrality Of Money," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 46(2), pages 465-487, 05.
  13. Foellmi, Reto & Zweimüller, Josef, 2005. "Income Distribution and Demand-Induced Innovations," CEPR Discussion Papers 4985, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Pierre Monnin, . "Are stock markets really like beauty contests? Empirical evidence of higher order belief's impact on asset prices," IEW - Working Papers 202, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  15. Philipp C. Wichardt & Pavlo R. Blavatskyy, . "Base-Rate Neglect and Imperfect Information Acquisition," IEW - Working Papers 233, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  16. Fehr, Ernst & Kremhelmer, Susanne & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2005. "Fairness and the Optimal Allocation of Ownership Rights," CEPR Discussion Papers 5369, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Leoni, Patrick & Luchini, Stéphane, 2011. "Designing the financial tools to promote universal access to AIDS care," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 181-188, January.
  18. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "The Role of Direct Democracy and Federalism in Local Power," IEW - Working Papers 209, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  19. Joseph P. Romano & Azeem M. Shaikh & Michael Wolf, 2010. "multiple testing," The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, Palgrave Macmillan.
  20. Frey, Bruno S. & Benesch, Christine & Stutzer, Alois, 2007. "Does watching TV make us happy?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 283-313, June.
  21. Christian Ewerhart & Nuno Cassola & Steen Ejerskov & Natacha Valla, . "Optimal Allotment Policy in Central Bank Open Market Operations," IEW - Working Papers 201, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  22. Alois Stutzer & Bruno S. Frey, 2004. "Making International Organizations More Democratic," CREMA Working Paper Series 2004-28, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  23. Lalive, Rafael & van Ours, Jan C & Zweimüller, Josef, 2005. "How Changes in Financial Incentives Affect the Duration of Unemployment," CEPR Discussion Papers 4986, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  24. Martin Brown & Christian Zehnder, 2005. "Credit Registries, Relationship Banking and Loan Repayment," IEW - Working Papers 240, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  25. Bruno S. Frey, 2005. "Knight Fever: Towards an Economics of Awards," CREMA Working Paper Series 2005-12, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  26. Peter Woehrmann & Willi Semmler & Martin Lettau, . "Nonparametric Estimation of the Time-varying Sharpe Ratio in Dynamic Asset Pricing Models," IEW - Working Papers 225, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  27. Bhatt, Meghana & Camerer, Colin F., 2005. "Self-referential thinking and equilibrium as states of mind in games: fMRI evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 424-459, August.
  28. Alois Stutzer & Lukas Kienast, . "Demokratische Beteiligung und Staatsausgaben: Die Auswirkungen des Frauenstimmrechts," IEW - Working Papers 210, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  29. Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs & Kosfeld, Michael, 2005. "Neuroeconomic Foundations of Trust and Social Preferences," IZA Discussion Papers 1641, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  30. Falk, Armin & Zweimüller, Josef, 2005. "Unemployment and Right-Wing Extremist Crime," CEPR Discussion Papers 4997, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  31. Bruno S. Frey & Simon Luechinger & Alois Stutzer, . "Calculating Tragedy: Assessing the Costs of Terrorism," IEW - Working Papers 205, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  32. Pavlo R. Blavatskyy, . "A Stochastic Expected Utility Theory," IEW - Working Papers 231, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  33. Philipp C. Wichardt, . "An Application of Global Games to Signalling Models," IEW - Working Papers 223, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  34. Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr & Christian Zehnder, . "The Behavioral Effects of Minimum Wages," IEW - Working Papers 247, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  35. Christian Ewerhart & Christoph Nitzsche, . ": On the Notion of the First Best in Standard Hidden Action Problems," IEW - Working Papers 229, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5128. 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: ()

The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask to update the entry or send us the correct address

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.