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Are economists more selfish than other `social' scientists?

Listed author(s):
  • Richard Biel
  • David Laband

There is considerable professional disagreement among economists about whether economists are less cooperative than non-economists. It has been argued that once an individual has been schooled in the self-interest model of individual human behavior (s)he exhibits more selfish behavior than other, ostensibly similar individuals who have not been taught to fully appreciate Homo economicus. Heretofore, the empirical debate has centered around classroom experiments designed to compare the "honesty" of undergraduate economics majors versus non economics majors. However, methodological problems have plagued these studies, leaving both sides at an impasse. We offer unique and compelling real-world evidence that suggests economists are no less cooperative than non-economists. Indeed, after comparing the incidence of "cheating" on their Association dues, we find that professional economists are significantly more honest/cooperative than professional political scientists, and especially, professional sociologists.

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Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Artefactual Field Experiments with number 00076.

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Date of creation: 1999
Handle: RePEc:feb:artefa:00076
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.fieldexperiments.com

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