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Two Concerns about Rational Choice: Indoctrination and Imperialism


  • Bruno S. Frey
  • Stephan Meier


Rational Choice Theory is often criticized to indoctrinate students in a negative, which is supported by some laboratory experiments. But do students of Rational Choice Theory really behave more selfishly? This paper presents evidence from a natural decision on voluntary donation at the University of Zurich. The analysis of the very large panel data set reaches significant different results than previous studies: Rational Choice Theory does not indoctrinate students. However, there are good other reasons to criticize Rational Choice Theory. The paper argues that ideas from other social sciences should be imported to improve the theory. Three elements are presented which lead to new and different policy conclusions.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruno S. Frey & Stephan Meier, "undated". "Two Concerns about Rational Choice: Indoctrination and Imperialism," IEW - Working Papers 104, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  • Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:104

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Reto Foellmi & Urs Meister, 2005. "Product-Market Competition in the Water Industry: Voluntary Non-discriminatory Pricing," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 115-135, June.

    More about this item


    Rational Choice; Public Goods; Giving Behavior; Education; Behavioral Economics;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • A20 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - General
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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