Behavioral economics and the atheoretical style

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Behavioral economics is widely perceived to be part of the profession's shift away from a culture that places abstract theory at its center. I present a critical discussion of the atheoretical style with which "behavioral" themes are often disseminated: a purely anecdotal style in popular expositions, simplistic cost- benefit modeling in pieces that target a wide audience of academic economists, and the practice of capturing psychological forces by distorting familiar functional forms. I argue that the subject of "psychology and economics" is intrinsically foundational, and that a heavier dose of abstract theorizing is essential for it to realize its transformative potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-194
Number of pages22
JournalAmerican Economic Journal: Microeconomics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 May 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Economics,Econometrics and Finance


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