Beyond Dualities in Psychology, Neuroscience and Behavioural Economics: Building the Foundations of Social Neuroeconomics on G.H. Mead
27 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2017
Date Written: November 7, 2017
Dual systems theories play an important role in the conceptual foundations of behavioural economics, such as distinguishing between ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ responses to stimuli. After considering how behavioural economists use these dualities to legitimize policy interventions, I critically reflect their empirical validity in the light of recent research in psychology and the neurosciences. I argue that their major flaw is the inadequate treatment of reflection. I introduce the distinction between ‘reflectivity’ and ‘reflexivity’, arguing that most action preparation involves complex brain connectivities that integrate the two systems, as understood traditionally. G.H. Mead’s duality of ‘I’ and ‘me’ seems to be a promising alternative to existing dualities, which combines with a parallel processing or selectionist model of action generation. I conclude that this approach helps to resolve the current tension between dualistic approaches in behavioural economics and unitary views in neuroeconomics that aim at reducing the economic model of choice, thus introducing the notion of a ‘social neuroeconomics’.
Keywords: Dual system theories; G.H. Mead; reflectivity and reflexivity; language; ‘I’ and ‘me’; neural group selection; social neuroeconomics
JEL Classification: B41, D91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation