Behavioral Economics As Self-Help

November 29, 2009

by Mario Rizzo  

For quite a number of years I have been saying that I have no objection to behavioral economics per se, aside from the legal paternalism wing. After all, why shouldn’t people use science to make their lives better?  

So now MIT economist Dan Ariely has adapted some of the findings of behavioral economics to helping people regulate their own behavior. This is his advice on how to avoid eating too much on Thanksgiving, but it is applicable more generally to avoiding poor eating.  

Yes, this is where the legal paternalists should shift their considerable skills: self-help books.

 

7 Responses to “Behavioral Economics As Self-Help”


  1. Economic self-help used to be the domain of Home Economics courses. As the world turns.


  2. Ha! Indeed it’s hard to say which is the more redundant term — “home economics” or “behavioral economics”.

  3. chidemkurdas Says:

    They’re in for a lot of competition. There must be thousands of diet books, going back decades, that tell you to take small portions, move away the serving dish and not keep chocolate in the house. Those nostrums work–but only temporarily. Hence we keep getting chubbier despite mountains of advice. It isn’t clear that behavioral economics adds anything.

  4. Josh W. Says:

    At UC Berkeley behavioral econimcs is all the rage


  5. Unfortunately dieting isn’t just about small portions. If you want to eat healthily it costs a lot of extra money. Cheap food is filled with unecessary amounts of fat. Instead of looking at behavioral econimcs perhaps we should be concentrating on regulating the food industry better.

  6. pamina Says:

    How delusional and how late for economists to come to psychology. ‘Behavioral economics’ is a redundant term. Economics is a subfield of psychology and not the other way around. One economist in an article said economists knew that psychology is important, but not THAT important. Hello? There is a disconnect here. No wonder the world is such a mess. Did not know that this way of thinking was walking around. And now at Berkeley it’s the rage, like some ‘new’ discovery? How pathetic. What an excuse to have funding and recognition for a new academic field. Pathetic.


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