Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1801564
 


 



A Demand for Encompassment: A Hayekian Experimental Parable about Political Psychology


Daniel B. Klein


George Mason University - Department of Economics

Xiaofei Pan


George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science (ICES)

Daniel Houser


George Mason University - Department of Economics

Gonzalo Schwarz


George Mason University - Department of Economics

April 7, 2014

Rationality and Society, Forthcoming
GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 11-15.

Abstract:     
Emile Durkheim said that when all of the members of a tribe or clan come together, they can sanctify the sacred and experience a spiritual “effervescence.” Friedrich Hayek suggested that certain genes and instincts still dispose us toward the ethos and mentality of the hunter-gatherer band, and that modern forms of political collectivism have, in part, been atavistic reassertions of such tendencies. Picking up on Hayek, Klein (2005) has suggested a combination of yearnings: 1) a yearning for coordinated sentiment (like Smithian sympathy); and 2) a yearning that the sentiment encompass “the people,” that is, some focal and seemingly definitive set of “we.” This paper reports on an experiment designed to explore the demand for encompassment by having subjects sing together. In each trial, one person in the room was designated not to sing unless every one of the others in the room had made a payment sufficient so as to have that person sing. Our evidence of a demand for encompassment is threefold: Subjects chose to sacrifice money to achieve encompassment 47.4 percent of the time, with 59.6 percent of the subjects doing so in at least one trial. An exit questionnaire showed that subjects’ chief reason for making such a sacrifice was a belief that the singing would be more enjoyable if it encompassed the whole group. Furthermore, the subjects reported significantly higher enjoyment when they had experienced encompassment. We are well aware of the significant differences between the situation of the experiment and the situation of actual political life. We nonetheless discuss the experiment as a parable for a penchant toward political collectivism, a parable that helps to clarify the role of encompassment in the sentimental facets of Hayek’s ideas about the psychology of political collectivism.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 35

Keywords: Encompassment, political psychology, Hayek, the people’s romance, Durkheim

JEL Classification: A13, H89, Z1

working papers series





Download This Paper

Date posted: April 4, 2011 ; Last revised: April 9, 2014

Suggested Citation

Klein, Daniel B. and Pan, Xiaofei and Houser, Daniel and Schwarz, Gonzalo, A Demand for Encompassment: A Hayekian Experimental Parable about Political Psychology (April 7, 2014). Rationality and Society, Forthcoming; GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 11-15.. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1801564 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1801564

Contact Information

Daniel B. Klein (Contact Author)
George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )
4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
Xiaofei Pan
George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )
4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
George Mason University - Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science (ICES) ( email )
400P Truland Building
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
Daniel Houser
George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )
4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
Gonzalo Schwarz
George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )
4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 3,064
Downloads: 124
Download Rank: 137,932

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo5 in 0.375 seconds