Two Concerns About Rational Choice: Indoctrination and Imperialism

Zurich IEER Working Paper No. 104

22 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2002

See all articles by Bruno S. Frey

Bruno S. Frey

CREMA; University of Basel

Stephan Meier

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Columbia Business School - Management

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Rational Choice, Public Goods, Giving Behavior, Education, Behavioral Economics

JEL Classification: A13, A20, H41

Suggested Citation

Frey, Bruno S. and Meier, Stephan, Two Concerns About Rational Choice: Indoctrination and Imperialism. Zurich IEER Working Paper No. 104. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=301867 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.301867

Bruno S. Frey (Contact Author)

CREMA ( email )

Südstrasse 11
Zurich, CH 8008
Switzerland
+41 44 380 00 78 (Phone)

University of Basel ( email )

Peter Merian-Weg 6
Basel, 4002
Switzerland

Stephan Meier

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston ( email )

600 Atlantic Avenue
Boston, MA 02210
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Columbia Business School - Management ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

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