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Fearing Fear: Gender and Economic Discourse

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  • Julie A. Nelson

Abstract

Economic Discourse - or the lack of it - about fear is gendered on at least three fronts. First, while masculine-associated notions of reason and mind have historically been prioritized in mainstream economics, fear - along with other emotions and embodiment - has tended to be culturally associated with femininity. Research on cognitive "gender schema", then, may at least partly explain the near absence of discussions of fear within economic research. Second, in the rare cases where fear is discussed in the contemporary economics literature, there is a tendency to (overly-)strongly associate it with women. Finally, historians and philosophers of science have suggested that the failure to consider the full range of human emotions and experience may be itself rooted in fear: a fear of the feminine. This aversion to discussing fear - especially fear as experienced by men - may contribute to serious problems, especially in regard to financial market instability and ecological threats.

Suggested Citation

  • Julie A. Nelson, 2013. "Fearing Fear: Gender and Economic Discourse," Working Papers 2013_04, University of Massachusetts Boston, Economics Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:mab:wpaper:2013_04
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Nelson, Julie A., 1992. "Gender, Metaphor, and the Definition of Economics," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(01), pages 103-125, April.
    2. Alison L. Booth & Patrick Nolen, 2012. "Gender differences in risk behaviour: does nurture matter?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(558), pages 56-78, February.
    3. Julie A. Nelson, 2012. "Is Dismissing the Precautionary Principle the Manly Thing to Do? Gender and the Economics of Climate Change," GDAE Working Papers 12-04, GDAE, Tufts University.
    4. Lindquist, Gabriella Sjögren & Säve-Söderbergh, Jenny, 2011. ""Girls will be Girls", especially among Boys: Risk-taking in the "Daily Double" on Jeopardy," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 112(2), pages 158-160, August.
    5. Julie A. Nelson, 2013. "'Would women leaders have prevented the global financial crisis?' Teaching critical thinking by questioning a question," International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 4(2), pages 192-209.
    6. Kimmo Eriksson & Brent Simpson, 2010. "Emotional reactions to losing explain gender differences in entering a risky lottery," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 5(3), pages 159-163, June.
    7. Kathleen Arano & Carl Parker & Rory Terry, 2010. "Gender-Based Risk Aversion And Retirement Asset Allocation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(1), pages 147-155, January.
    8. Milton Friedman & L. J. Savage, 1948. "The Utility Analysis of Choices Involving Risk," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 279-279.
    9. Sandra Harding, 1995. "Can feminist thought make economics more objective?," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 7-32.
    10. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-474, June.
    11. Charness, Gary & Gneezy, Uri, 2012. "Strong Evidence for Gender Differences in Risk Taking," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 50-58.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mario Cedrini & Marco Novarese, 2015. "The challenge of fear to economics," Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Springer;Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 14(1), pages 99-106, June.

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    Keywords

    cognitive schema; fear; gender; risk aversion; stereotypes;

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