Physical Laws and Human Behavior: A Three-Tier Framework

21 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2019

See all articles by Shabnam Mousavi

Shabnam Mousavi

Max Planck Institute for Human Development; Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition, Max Planck Institute for Human Development

Shyam Sunder

Yale University - School of Management; Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Date Written: February 28, 2019

Abstract

Social sciences start by looking at the social-psychological attributes of humans to model and explain their observed behavior. However, we suggest starting the study of observed human behavior with the universal laws of physics, e.g., the principle of minimum action. In our proposed three-tier framework, behavior is a manifestation of action driven by physical, biological, and social-psychological principles at the core, intermediate, and top tier, respectively. More broadly, this reordering is an initial step towards building a platform for reorganizing the research methods used for theorizing and modeling behavior. This perspective outlines and illustrates how a physical law can account for observed human behavior and sketches the elements of a broader agenda.

Keywords: Human behavior, Physics, Biology, Social sciences

JEL Classification: B30, B40, D01

Suggested Citation

Mousavi, Shabnam and Sunder, Shyam, Physical Laws and Human Behavior: A Three-Tier Framework (February 28, 2019). Cowles Foundation Discussion Paper No. 2173. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3374715 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3374715

Shabnam Mousavi

Max Planck Institute for Human Development ( email )

Lentzeallee 94
Berlin, 14195
Germany

Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition, Max Planck Institute for Human Development ( email )

Lentzeallee 94
Berlin, 14195
Germany

Shyam Sunder (Contact Author)

Yale University - School of Management ( email )

165 Whitney Avenue
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States
203-432-6160 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.som.yale.edu/faculty/sunder/

Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

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