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Tastes, castes, and culture: The influence of society on preferences

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  • Ernst Fehr
  • Karla Hoff

Abstract

Economists have traditionally treated preferences as exogenously given. Preferences are assumed to be influenced by neither beliefs nor the constraints people face. As a consequence, changes in behaviour are explained exclusively in terms of changes in the set of feasible alternatives. Here we argue that the opposition to explaining behavioural changes in terms of preference changes is illfounded, that the psychological properties of preferences render them susceptible to direct social influences, and that the impact of “society” on preferences is likely to have important economic and social consequences.

Suggested Citation

  • Ernst Fehr & Karla Hoff, 2011. "Tastes, castes, and culture: The influence of society on preferences," ECON - Working Papers 026, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  • Handle: RePEc:zur:econwp:026
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    1. repec:kap:reveho:v:15:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s11150-015-9306-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Tim Friehe & Mario Mechtel, 2017. "Gambling to leapfrog in status?," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 1291-1319, December.
    3. Joao V. Ferreira & Nobuyuki Hanaki & Benoît Tarroux, 2017. "On the Roots of the Intrinsic Value of Decision Rights: Evidence from France and Japan," GREDEG Working Papers 2017-29, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.
    4. Doepke, Matthias & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 2014. "Culture, Entrepreneurship, and Growth," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 1-48 Elsevier.
    5. Marion Fourcade & Etienne Ollion & Yann Algan, 2015. "La superioridad de los economistas," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 17(33), pages 13-43, July-Dece.
    6. Karol Jan Borowiecki, 2015. "Historical origins of cultural supply in Italy," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(3), pages 781-805.
    7. Jordi Brandts & Arno Riedl, 2015. "Market Interaction and Efficient Cooperation," Working Papers 868, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    8. Brandts J. & Riedl A.M., 2016. "Market competition and efficient cooperation," Research Memorandum 006, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Endogenous preferences; culture; caste; frames; anchors; elicitation devices;

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • K0 - Law and Economics - - General

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