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Tastes, castes and culture: the influence of society on preferences


Fehr, Ernst; Hoff, Karla (2011). Tastes, castes and culture: the influence of society on preferences. Economic Journal, 121(556):F396-F412.

Abstract

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.

Abstract

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.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:November 2011
Deposited On:09 Nov 2011 14:20
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:05
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0013-0133
Additional Information:The definitive version is available at www.blackwell-synergy.com
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0297.2011.02478.x

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