The Rise Of Neuroeconomics

from the plugged-into-the-brain dept

Eric Roston has submitted his own Time Magazine column about the rise of neuroeconomics: the study of how people make economic decisions by watching their brains (usually using fMRI equipment) as they make the decisions. The neuroeconomists (and, behind them, the neuromarketers) believe that they can figure out a better explanation for why people buy the way they do. It's a fascinating topic that doesn't get all that much attention (though, we've written about it before). The one thing that I think is presented incorrectly, though, is the idea that neuroeconomics is somehow different from traditional "rational man" economics. Those who claim the two are different point to seemingly irrational buying behaviors, but they're only irrational to the person saying it's irrational - not to the buyer. If someone buys something, then they have a reason for doing so. Even if an "objective" (as if that's possible) analysis, says the person shouldn't buy, they believe the utility of the purchase outweighs the cost - even if it's just satisfying some random urge to throw away money.

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    Mike (profile), 1 Mar 2004 @ 11:38pm

    Re: Neuroeconomics

    Eric,

    Not bad form at all. Others do so as well. I was just pointing out that it was you who had submitted it. In fact, please continue to submit them if you feel the audience here would appreciate it.

    Anyway, I wasn't trying to criticize your take on the issue. My complaint is mostly with the neuroeconomists who talk about traditional "rational man" economics as if it has nothing to offer to the debate. I agree that it's fascinating work (and have a good friend who is researching stuff in this area). I just think they tend to trash those who came before them when they could learn from them and build on their work with additional scientific evidence.

    Mike

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