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Some Contributions of Economics to the Study of Personality

Author

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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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    2. Piovesan, Marco & Willadsen, Helene, 2021. "Risk preferences and personality traits in children and adolescents," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 186(C), pages 523-532.
    3. Slichter, David & Taveras, Elisa & Monge, Daniela, 2021. "The Skills of Rich and Poor Country Workers," MPRA Paper 106050, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    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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    8. Jan Bietenbeck, 2020. "Own Motivation, Peer Motivation, and Educational Success," CESifo Working Paper Series 8696, CESifo.
    9. Ksenia Rozhkova & Sergey Roshchin, 2021. "The Impact of Non-Cognitive Characteristics on the Higher Education Choice-Making: An Economist Perspective," Voprosy obrazovaniya / Educational Studies Moscow, National Research University Higher School of Economics, issue 3, pages 138-167.
    10. Fitzenberger, Bernd & Mena, Gary & Nimczik, Jan & Sunde, Uwe, 2019. "Personality Traits Across the Life Cycle: Disentangling Age, Period, and Cohort Effects," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 214, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    11. Рожкова К. В. & Рощин С. Ю., 2021. "Влияние Некогнитивных Характеристик На Выбор Траекторий В Высшем Образовании: Взгляд Экономистов," Вопросы образования // Educational Studies Moscow, National Research University Higher School of Economics, issue 3, pages 138-167.
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    13. Jagelka, Tomáš, 2020. "Are Economists' Preferences Psychologists' Personality Traits? A Structural Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 13303, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    behavioral economics; psychology; preferences; 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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