Human Nature and Institutional Analysis

NEW INSTITUTIONAL ECONOMICS: A GUIDEBOOK, Eric Brousseau and Jean-Michel Glachant, eds., pp. 81-99, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

UPF Economics and Business Working Paper No. 822

29 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2005 Last revised: 22 Oct 2008

Benito Arruñada

Pompeu Fabra University - Department of Economics and Business; Barcelona GSE

Date Written: March 1, 2005

Abstract

This essay reviews some findings in cognition sciences and examines their consequences for the analysis of institutions. It starts by exploring how humans' specialization in producing knowledge ensures our success in dominating the environment but also changes fast our environment. So fast that it did not give time to natural selection to adapt our biology, causing it to be potentially maladapted in important dimensions. A main function of institutions is therefore to fill the gap between the demands of our relatively new environment and our biology, still adapted to our ancestral environment as hunter-gatherers. Moreover, institutions are built with the available elements, which include our instincts. A deeper understanding of both aspects, their adaptive function and this recruitment of ancestral instincts, will add greatly to our ability to manage institutions.

Keywords: Evolution, biology, behavior, institutions

JEL Classification: D01, D02

Suggested Citation

Arruñada, Benito, Human Nature and Institutional Analysis (March 1, 2005). NEW INSTITUTIONAL ECONOMICS: A GUIDEBOOK, Eric Brousseau and Jean-Michel Glachant, eds., pp. 81-99, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge; UPF Economics and Business Working Paper No. 822. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=859084 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.859084

Benito Arruñada (Contact Author)

Pompeu Fabra University - Department of Economics and Business ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27
Department of Economics and Business
Barcelona, 08005
Spain
+34 93 542 25 72 (Phone)
+34 93 542 17 46 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.upf.edu/~arrunada

Barcelona GSE ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, Barcelona 08005
Spain

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