The homo oeconomicus is someone you wouldn’t like to have as an enemy. He is the type of person who is totally rational, lucidly aware of his real interests and always able to make decisions and act to maximise output and profit. For a long time, it was believed that the economic system was based on him. Fortunately, however, this isn’t quite true.
Among the academics who have contested the idea of rationalism embraced by many economic theories is Daniel Kahneman, Nobel prize winner in 2002 and one of the first to integrate the study of economics with psychological research. According to Kahneman, when taking decisions, people do not always prove to be as clear-headed and rational as we would expect.
In this interview published by The Economist, the scholar discusses his research on this topic and, explains his ideas on how, generally speaking, we approach the decision-making process. His point of view may help us to understand how we behave in our lives as economic “players”, but also as private citizens. Dostoevskij, a fine scholar of the human spirit, understood: for most of us, he said, two times two often equals five. Accepting the existence of irrationality – in ourselves as in others – is a good start.