The Moral Effects of Economic Teaching

Sociological Forum, Vol. 30, No. 1, March 2015

6 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2015

See all articles by Amitai Etzioni

Amitai Etzioni

The George Washington University

Date Written: March 12, 2015


Over the past 2 decades, dozens of studies have explored the relationship between exposure to economics and antisocial behavior. With a few exceptions, these studies find the economists and economics students are more likely to exhibit a range of “debased” moral behavior and attitudes, both in the controlled environment of the laboratory and in the outside world. This article presents a review of these studies. It draws on the various studies to address the question of whether the found differences are due to a selection effect — that is, those with antisocial tendencies tend to study economics — or an indoctrination effect whereby exposure to economic theory causes antisocial behavior. The article suggests there is evidence that both effects play a role in explaining the debased behavior of economists and students of economics.

Suggested Citation

Etzioni, Amitai, The Moral Effects of Economic Teaching (March 12, 2015). Sociological Forum, Vol. 30, No. 1, March 2015. Available at SSRN:

Amitai Etzioni (Contact Author)

The George Washington University ( email )

2100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 4058
Washington, DC 20037
United States

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