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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
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifwedp:201354
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  1. Christian Schubert, 2012. "Pursuing Happiness," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 245-261, 05.
  2. Bianchi, Marina, 2003. "A questioning economist: Tibor Scitovsky's attempt to bring joy into economics," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 391-407, June.
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  13. Christian Schubert, 2012. "Pursuing Happiness," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2012-01, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  14. James J. Heckman, 2011. "Integrating Personality Psychology into Economics," NBER Working Papers 17378, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
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