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Rationality and choices in economics: behavioral and evolutionary approaches


  • Graziano, Mario
  • Schilirò, Daniele


The paper critically discusses the issue of rationality and choices in economics in both the behavioural and evolutionary approaches. Our study aims, on the one hand, to highlight the scientific contributions of psychology in economics, since psychology, and with it the theoretical approach of the behavioral economics, has made more complex and problematic the analysis of economic choices, showing the limits of rationality. On the other hand, the work offers a reinterpretation of the theory of Alfred Marshall in a biologicalevolutionary perspective. The reinterpretation of Marshall's theory in a evolutionary perspective aims to show that, historically, economics has not been a discipline aligned in a homogenous way to a single and undifferentiated thought, locked into the idea of perfect rationality, but, on the opposite, is a discipline that has enriched itself and continually is enriching by contributions and significant contaminations with other research fields.

Suggested Citation

  • Graziano, Mario & Schilirò, Daniele, 2012. "Rationality and choices in economics: behavioral and evolutionary approaches," MPRA Paper 35971, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:35971

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Richard M. Cyert & Herbert A. Simon & Donald B. Trow, 1956. "Observation of a Business Decision," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29, pages 237-237.
    2. Smith, Vernon L, 1982. "Microeconomic Systems as an Experimental Science," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 923-955, December.
    3. Herbert Simon, 2000. "Bounded rationality in social science: Today and tomorrow," Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Springer;Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 1(1), pages 25-39, March.
    4. Thaler, Richard, 1981. "Some empirical evidence on dynamic inconsistency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 201-207.
    5. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
    6. Alfred Marshall, 1991. "Analogies mécaniques et biologiques en économie (1898)," Revue Française d'Économie, Programme National Persée, vol. 6(1), pages 103-113.
    7. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    8. Schilirò, Daniele, 2011. "Decisioni e razionalità in economia
      [Decisions and rationality in economics]
      ," MPRA Paper 29477, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
    10. Castellani, Marco & Di Giovinazzo, Viviana & Novarese, Marco, 2010. "Procedural rationality and happiness," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 376-383, June.
    11. 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.
    12. Simon, Herbert A, 1979. "Rational Decision Making in Business Organizations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(4), pages 493-513, September.
    13. Daniel Kahneman & Richard H. Thaler, 2006. "Anomalies: Utility Maximization and Experienced Utility," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 221-234, Winter.
    14. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
    15. Thaler, Richard, 1980. "Toward a positive theory of consumer choice," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 39-60, March.
    16. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1986. "Rational Choice and the Framing of Decisions," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages 251-278, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Schilirò, Daniele, 2012. "Bounded rationality and perfect rationality: psychology into economics," MPRA Paper 41663, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Chatterjee, Sidharta, 2014. "Equilibrium Models of Macroeconomic Science: What to Look For in (DSGE) Models?," MPRA Paper 53893, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    rationality; choices; behavioral economics; evolutionary theories; biology;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General
    • B13 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Neoclassical through 1925 (Austrian, Marshallian, Walrasian, Wicksellian)
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles

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