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The Methodologies of Neuroeconomics

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  • Glenn Harrison
  • Don Ross

Abstract

We critically review the methodological practices of two research programs which are jointly called 'neuroeconomics'. We defend the first of these, termed 'neurocellular economics' (NE) by Ross (2008), from an attack on its relevance by Gul and Pesendorfer (2008) (GP). This attack arbitrarily singles out some but not all processing variables as unimportant to economics, is insensitive to the realities of empirical theory testing, and ignores the central importance to economics of 'ecological rationality' (Smith 2007). GP ironically share this last attitude with advocates of 'behavioral economics in the scanner' (BES), the other, and better known, branch of neuroeconomics. We consider grounds for skepticism about the accomplishments of this research program to date, based on its methodological individualism, its ad hoc econometrics, its tolerance for invalid reverse inference, and its inattention to the difficulties involved in extracting temporally lagged data if people's anticipation of reward causes pre-emptive blood flow.

Suggested Citation

  • Glenn Harrison & Don Ross, 2010. "The Methodologies of Neuroeconomics," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2010-12, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  • Handle: RePEc:exc:wpaper:2010-12
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    File URL: http://excen.gsu.edu/workingpapers/GSU_EXCEN_WP_2010-12.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Caplin, Andrew & Schotter, Andrew, 2008. "The Foundations of Positive and Normative Economics: A Handbook," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195328318.
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Ig(noble)Nobels 2012, and beyond …
      by Andreas Ortmann in Core Economics on 2012-09-25 21:55:09

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:pdn:wpaper:70 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Marcel Boumans & Matthias Klaes (ed.), 2013. "Mark Blaug: Rebel with Many Causes," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 15224.
    3. D Wade Hands, 2013. "GP08 is the New F53: Gul and Pesendorfer’s Methodological Essay from the Viewpoint of Blaug’s Popperian Methodology," Chapters,in: Mark Blaug: Rebel with Many Causes, chapter 17, pages 245-266 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. repec:kap:jbuset:v:144:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10551-016-3110-1 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • C51 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Construction and Estimation
    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D87 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Neuroeconomics

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