nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2022‒05‒30
seven papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Evolutionary Stability of Behavioural Rules By Khan, Abhimanyu
  2. Fixation of Belief and Membership: A Contribution to the Understanding of the Detrimental Outcomes of Institutions By Alice Sindzingre
  3. The Conceptual Resilience of the Atomistic Individual in Mainstream Economic Rationality By Drakopoulos, Stavros A.
  4. Nudging To Prohibition? A Reassessment of Irving Firsher’s Economics of Prohibition in Light of Modern Behavioral Economics By Curott, Nicholas A.; Snow, Nicholas A.
  5. The smell of cooperativeness : Do human body odours advertise cooperative behaviours? By Arnaud Tognetti; Valérie Durand; Dimitri Dubois; Melissa Barkat-Defradas; Astrid Hopfensitz; Camille Ferdenzi
  6. The Birth of Homo Œconomicus: The methodological debate on the economic agent from J.S. Mill to V. Pareto By Desmarais-Tremblay, Maxime; Bee, Michele
  7. Altruism Begets Altruism By Stephanie A. Heger; Robert Slonim

  1. By: Khan, Abhimanyu
    Abstract: I develop a notion of evolutionary stability of behavioural rules when individuals simultaneously interact in a family of strategic games. An individual’s strategy choice is determined by his behavioural rule which may take into account the manner in which the games have been played in the past. The payoffs obtained by individuals following a particular behavioural rule determine that rule’s fitness. A population is stable if, whenever some individuals from an incumbent behavioural rule mutate and follow a mutant behavioural rule, the fitness of each incumbent behavioural rule exceeds that of the mutant behavioural rule. The behavioural rules approach thus conceptualises stability when individuals simultaneously interact in a variety of strategic environments. I first show the lack of stability whenever individuals exhibit heterogeneity in their behavioural rules. Furthermore, when all individuals follow the same behavioural rule, I find that the behavioural rules approach to stability is a refinement of the evolutionary stability of strategies approach in that the necessary condition for stability of behavioural rules is stronger than the corresponding condition for evolutionary stability of strategies. Finally, I present a sufficient condition for stability that is reasonably close to the necessary condition alluded to above.
    Keywords: behavioural rules, evolutionary stability, stability, evolutionary stable strategies
    JEL: C73
    Date: 2021–12–30
  2. By: Alice Sindzingre (CEPN - Centre d'Economie de l'Université Paris Nord - LABEX ICCA - UP13 - Université Paris 13 - Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3 - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UPC - Université Paris Cité - Université Sorbonne Paris Nord - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Université Sorbonne Paris Nord, LAM - Les Afriques dans le monde - IRD - Institut de Recherche pour le Développement - Université Bordeaux Montaigne - Institut d'Études Politiques [IEP] - Bordeaux - IEP Bordeaux - Sciences Po Bordeaux - Institut d'études politiques de Bordeaux - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: The contribution of institutions to growth or to stagnation (or even 'collapse') is a recurrent question in economics. The paper analyses the causalities according to which institutions generate behaviour that is detrimental to prosperity. Departing from mainstream explanations ('dysfunctionality', 'extraction'), it argues that institutions are composite concepts, which include forms and contents that evolve with time and contexts, and imply cascades of processes involving individual cognition and social interactions: yet certain beliefs may be subjected to processes of 'cumulative fixation', in contrast with refutable ones (e.g., scientific beliefs), and these processes are key mechanisms of stagnation. The article shows that some institutions can be related to others via sequential ordering, and that in an evolutionary perspective norms governing group membership (via, e.g., kinship, class, occupation) constitute 'core' institutions: more than others, these induce a cumulative fixation of beliefs and shape economic outcomes due to their key property, i.e. the generation of social classifications that orient individual behaviour vis-à-vis other individuals ('we'/'them', 'superiors'/'inferiors'). When contexts change, this ordering may evolve in asymmetries, where some beliefs and norms absorb or crowd-out others via mechanisms of cumulative causation, self-reinforcement and lock-in. Being more 'core', stable, than others, membership institutions drive such evolutions due to common features: beliefs that exhibit a high degree of fixation, deontic force and nonrefutability and provide high cognitive and emotional rewards, thus reinforcing incentives to adhere to them and having the greatest ability to persist whatever their economic effects.
    Keywords: heterodox economics,institutional economics,social norms,individual cognition.
    Date: 2021–06–29
  3. By: Drakopoulos, Stavros A.
    Abstract: Τhe idea that social influences and social interactions play a central role on individual economic decisions has had a long presence in the history of economics. With the emergence of marginalism, this idea went into background and the concept of atomistic individual became established in mainstream economic rationality. Starting in the 1970’s, there were some attempts to reintroduce non-atomistic preferences in mainstream microeconomic theory in the form of social interactions, interdependent preferences, keeping up with the Joneses, social identity, social preferences, and status concerns. Social preferences have started to have a growing impact among mainstream microeconomics with the advent of behavioral economics, but still they are not in the hard core of the standard theory of choice. The paper argues that atomistic preferences are still prevalent, especially in the form of the assumption of representative agent. It also focuses on the role of methodological individualism and on the theoretical implications of relaxing the assumption of atomistic individual, as main explanations of the resilience of the mainstream economic rationality.
    Keywords: Economic Rationality; Individual Preferences; Methodological Individualism, Representative Agent
    JEL: B20 B40 D10 D91
    Date: 2022–05–03
  4. By: Curott, Nicholas A.; Snow, Nicholas A.
    Abstract: In this paper we argue that Irving Fisher (1867-1947) is an unacknowledged pioneer of modern behavioral economics. Fisher’s behavioralist orientation is evident in his writings on alcohol prohibition. In these works, Fisher argued that behavioral anomalies prevent individuals from making rational choices regarding alcohol consumption. Fisher thought these anomalies arose from three sources: 1) incomplete information; 2) limited cognitive abilities; and 3) lack of will power. These are essentially the same barriers to rational choice identified by modern day New Paternalists. Therefore, we argue that Fisher’s work on Prohibition was a pioneering academic achievement that anticipated recent developments in economics, and not an unscientific diatribe, as previous commentators have presumed. Unlike modern day ‘New Paternalists,’ however, Fisher rejected minor alterations to the choice architecture and advocated outright prohibition instead. This helps to illustrate a potential slippery slope problem with modern new paternalist arguments that should be addressed.
    Date: 2022–04–09
  5. By: Arnaud Tognetti (EM - emlyon business school, Karolinska Institutet [Stockholm], IAST - Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse); Valérie Durand (UMR ISEM - Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution de Montpellier - EPHE - École pratique des hautes études - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UM - Université de Montpellier - Cirad - Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Institut de recherche pour le développement [IRD] : UR226); Dimitri Dubois (CEE-M - Centre d'Economie de l'Environnement - Montpellier - UM - Université de Montpellier - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement - Institut Agro - Montpellier SupAgro); Melissa Barkat-Defradas (UMR ISEM - Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution de Montpellier - EPHE - École pratique des hautes études - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UM - Université de Montpellier - Cirad - Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Institut de recherche pour le développement [IRD] : UR226); Astrid Hopfensitz (EM - emlyon business school, GATE Lyon Saint-Étienne - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Université de Lyon - UJM - Université Jean Monnet [Saint-Étienne] - UCBL - Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 - Université de Lyon - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - ENS Lyon - École normale supérieure - Lyon); Camille Ferdenzi (CRNL - Centre de recherche en neurosciences de Lyon - Lyon Neuroscience Research Center - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INSERM - Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale - Université de Lyon - UJM - Université Jean Monnet [Saint-Étienne] - UCBL - Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 - Université de Lyon)
    Abstract: Several physical features influence the perception of how cooperative a potential partner is. While previous work focused on face and voice, it remains unknown whether body odours influence judgements of cooperativeness and if odour-based judgements are accurate. Here, we first collected axillary odours of cooperative and uncooperative male donors through a public good game and used them as olfactory stimuli in a series of tasks examining whether and how they influence cooperative decision-making in an incentivized economic game and ratings of cooperativeness. Our results show that having access to the donor's body odours provided a strategic advantage to women during economic decisions (but not to men): with age, women were more likely to cooperate with cooperative men and to avoid interacting with uncooperative men. Ratings of cooperativeness were nonetheless unrelated to the donors' actual cooperativeness. Finally, while men with masculine and intense body odours were judged less cooperative, we found no evidence that donors' actual cooperativeness was associated with less masculine or less intense body odour. Overall, our findings suggest that, as faces and voices, body odours influence perceived cooperativeness and might be used accurately and in a non-aware manner as olfactory cues of cooperativeness, at least by women.
    Keywords: body odours,chemosensory cues,economic games,partner choice
    Date: 2022
  6. By: Desmarais-Tremblay, Maxime (Goldsmiths, University of London); Bee, Michele
    Abstract: This paper proposes a genealogy of the concept of homo œconomicus as it emerged from the methodological debate on the economic agent of political economy. If Mill gave birth to the economic man in his 1836 Essay “On the Definition of Political Economy,” he certainly did not baptize him. The expression was introduced by Francis A. Walker after Mill passed away in the 1870s. Economic man acquired its Latin name of homo œconomicus under the pen of French Catholic economist Claudio Jannet in 1878. Yet, only at the end of the century did Maffeo Pantaleoni (1889) proudly reclaim homo œconomicus as a building block of pure economics. In reaction to the evolutionary hedonism of Pantaleoni, Vilfredo Pareto then cleansed the concept of homo œconomicus and realized the Millian project of an abstract science based on an economic agent.
    Date: 2022–04–09
  7. By: Stephanie A. Heger; Robert Slonim
    Abstract: Guided by Bem’s (1972) self-perception theory, we design an experiment to ask whether morally-motivated behaviour, e.g., charitable giving, is history-dependent. Using a popular policy nudge, the default option, we exogenously vary altruism “now” and show that giving “now” causes a 66%- 200% increase in the probability of giving “later”; that is, altruism begets altruism. We further show that, consistent with self-perception theory, the choice to behave altruistically “now”, rather than the nudge itself, is the crucial element in the causal relationship. These findings are consistent with a model of positive path-dependence, which we interpret as moral consistency.
    Keywords: altruism, nudge, moral consistency
    Date: 2022

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