Human Nature and Economic Institutions Instinct Psychology, Behaviorism and the Development of American Institutionalism

University of Siena Economics Working Paper No. 373

42 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2003

See all articles by Pier Francesco Asso

Pier Francesco Asso

University of Palermo

Luca Fiorito

University of Siena - Department of Economics; New School University

Date Written: December 2002

Abstract

This paper explores the evolution of the psychological foundation of institutional economics between the early XXc and the 1940s. The first part deals with the rise and fall of instinct psychology. Inspired by Veblen's taxonomy of instinctive behavior, several American economists attempted to build a viable alternative to psychological hedonism of neoclassical economics then only at its infancy. In this debate we show how instinct theory came to be applied to the field now as industrial psychology. The second part discusses some of the reasons why this methodological approach began to lose momentum among leading American institutionalists. In this section we also present the emergence of behaviorism in 1930s American economics and the different impact which it gained also within neoclassical economists. This paper particularly dwells upon the contributions of C. Parker, L. Edie, M. Copeland and F. Knight.

Keywords: American institutionalism, Behaviorism, Economics and psychology, Instincts, Veblen

JEL Classification: B25, B31, B41, B52

Suggested Citation

Asso, Pier Francesco and Fiorito, Luca, Human Nature and Economic Institutions Instinct Psychology, Behaviorism and the Development of American Institutionalism (December 2002). University of Siena Economics Working Paper No. 373, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=433763 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.433763

Pier Francesco Asso (Contact Author)

University of Palermo ( email )

Viale delle Scienza
Palermo, 90128
Italy

Luca Fiorito

University of Siena - Department of Economics ( email )

Piazza S. Francesco, 7
Siena, I-53100
Italy
0577 232620 (Phone)
0577 232661 (Fax)

New School University ( email )

66 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
United States

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