Behavioral Economics: A History by Heukelom F.

By Heukelom F.

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They emphasized that no new or separate empirical investigation was needed, as the behavior to be rationalized was clearly observable to everyone: “This choice among different degrees of risk so prominent in insurance and gambling, is clearly present and important in a much broader range of 2. 1. The wiggly utility curve (Friedman and Savage, 1948, p. 297). economic choices” (Friedman and Savage, 1948, p. 279, emphasis added), they argued, and “[t]his paper attempts to provide a crude empirical test by bringing together a few broad observations about the behavior of individuals in choosing among alternative risk .

Office of Scientific Research and Development at Columbia University. Together with Harold Hotelling (1895–1973), an economist from Columbia University and a collaborator of Schultz’s in the 1930s, Wallis employed Friedman and other Chicagoans such as Stigler at the Statistical Research Group at Columbia University during the Second World War (Stigler, 1988, p. 61). In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Friedman became more critical of the statistical approach of Schultz and supported Burns and Mitchell’s (1946) use of statistics and economic theory in the famous “measurement without theory” controversy of the late 1940s (Hands and Mirowski, 1998; Morgan, 1990).

There was no way to test whether individuals indeed are tolerably rational: “The difficulties [of testing whether someone is tolerably rational] are obvious and stem from the economist’s inability to make experiments” (Marschak, 1950, p. 127). Like both von Neumann and Morgenstern (2004 [1944]) and Friedman and Savage (1948), Marschak argued that the behavioral postulates had to be based on intuition, or “immediate plausibility,” and summarized observable behavior: “[We] desire to avoid behavior postulates which are neither immediately plausible nor show themselves as approximated by easily observable action” (Marschak, 1950, p.

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