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Some Contributions of Economics to the Study of Personality

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  • Heckman, James J.

    () (University of Chicago)

  • Jagelka, Tomáš

    () (University of Bonn)

  • Kautz, Tim

    () (Mathematica Policy Research)

Abstract

This paper synthesizes recent research in economics and psychology on the measurement and empirical importance of personality skills and preferences. They predict and cause important life outcomes such as wages, health, and longevity. Skills develop over the life cycle and can be enhanced by education, parenting, and environmental influences to different degrees at different ages. Economic analysis clarifies psychological studies by establishing that personality is measured by performance on tasks which depends on incentives and multiple skills. Identification of any single skill therefore requires isolation of confounding factors, accounting for measurement error using rich data and application of appropriate statistical techniques. Skills can be inferred not only by questionnaires and experiments but also from observed behavior. Economists advance the analysis of human differences by providing anchored measures of economic preferences and studying their links to personality and cognitive skills. Connecting the research from the two disciplines promotes understanding of the number and nature of skills and preferences required to characterize essential differences.

Suggested Citation

  • Heckman, James J. & Jagelka, Tomáš & Kautz, Tim, 2019. "Some Contributions of Economics to the Study of Personality," IZA Discussion Papers 12753, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp12753
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    Cited by:

    1. Bietenbeck, Jan, 2020. "Own Motivation, Peer Motivation, and Educational Success," IZA Discussion Papers 13872, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
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    3. Fallucchi, Francesco & Nosenzo, Daniele & Reuben, Ernesto, 2020. "Measuring preferences for competition with experimentally-validated survey questions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 402-423.
    4. Dillon, Andrew & Karlan, Dean & Udry, Christopher & Zinman, Jonathan, 2020. "Good identification, meet good data," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 127(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    preferences; psychology; behavioral economics; human diversity;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics

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