Corresponding author: Ernst Fehr, Department of Economics, Laboratory for Social and Neural Systems Research, University of Zurich, Blümlisalpstrasse 10, CH-8006 Zurich, Switzerland. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Introduction: Tastes, Castes and Culture: the Influence of Society on Preferences*
Article first published online: 24 OCT 2011
© 2011 The Author(s). The Economic Journal © 2011 Royal Economic Society
The Economic Journal
Volume 121, Issue 556, pages F396–F412, November 2011
How to Cite
Fehr, E. and Hoff, K. (2011), Introduction: Tastes, Castes and Culture: the Influence of Society on Preferences. The Economic Journal, 121: F396–F412. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0297.2011.02478.x
Ernst Fehr acknowledges support from the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant 100014_130127/1 on the ‘The Social Dynamics of Normative Behaviour: Population Fragmentation and Divergent Cultural Evolution’).
- Issue published online: 24 OCT 2011
- Article first published online: 24 OCT 2011
Economists have traditionally treated preferences as exogenously given. Preferences are assumed to be influenced by neither beliefs nor the constraints people face. As a consequence, changes in behaviour are explained exclusively in terms of changes in the set of feasible alternatives. Here, we argue that the opposition to explaining behavioural changes in terms of preference changes is ill-founded, that the psychological properties of preferences render them susceptible to direct social influences and that the impact of ‘society’ on preferences is likely to have important economic and social consequences.