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Scitovsky, behavioural economics, and beyond

  • Pugno, Maurizio

By revisiting Scitovsky's work on well-being, which introduces 'novelty' into the consumer's option set as a peculiar source of satisfaction, this paper finds a number of connections with the recent behavioural economics so as to open new lines on inquiry. First, similarly to behavioural economics, Scitovsky used psychology to interpret sub-optimal choices. However, his welfare benchmark is different from rational choice, as understood by the economists, because 'novelty' implies a very strong form of uncertainty, as well as learning. Second, Scitovsky contributed to further elaboration of the two-systems framework put forward by Kahneman's recent book, which attempts to base behavioural economics on new foundations. Third, Scitovsky anticipated and contributed to specific analytical issues that have been studied in behavioural economics, such as the role of people's skill in uncertainty, the unpredictability of taste changes, and harmful addiction.

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Paper provided by Kiel Institute for the World Economy in its series Economics Discussion Papers with number 2013-54.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifwedp:201354
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  1. William M. P. Klein & Jennifer L. Cerully & Matthew M. Monin & Don A. Moore, 2010. "Ability, chance, and ambiguity aversion: Revisiting the competence hypothesis," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 5(3), pages 192-199, June.
  2. Maurizio Pugno, 2014. "Scitovsky's The Joyless Economy and the economics of happiness," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(2), pages 278-303, April.
  3. Fudenberg, Drew, 2006. "Advancing Beyond "Advances in Behavioral Economics"," Scholarly Articles 3208222, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  13. Christian Schubert, 2012. "Pursuing Happiness," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2012-01, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  14. Steenkamp, Jan-Benedict E M & Baumgartner, Hans, 1992. " The Role of Optimum Stimulation Level in Exploratory Consumer Behavior," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(3), pages 434-48, December.
  15. Loewenstein, George & O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 2000. "Projection Bias in Predicting Future Utility," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt5qh6142m, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  16. Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein, 2003. "Libertarian Paternalism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 175-179, May.
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  18. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
  19. Camerer, Colin & Weber, Martin, 1992. " Recent Developments in Modeling Preferences: Uncertainty and Ambiguity," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 325-70, October.
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