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Event: Conference: Economics and psychology in historical perspective

Event date December 17, 2014 - December 19, 2014
Submission deadline June 10, 2014
Location Paris
Host(s) Organized by Mikaël Cozic (UPEC, IUF & IHPST, France) and Jean-Sébastien Lenfant (U. Lille 1, France)
Event website/information Write to:

Conference call for contributions

Economics and psychology in historical perspective (from 18th century
to the present)

Paris, December 17th – December 19th 2014

Organized by Mikaël Cozic (UPEC, IUF & IHPST, France) and
Jean-Sébastien Lenfant (U. Lille 1, France)


Notification of interest: June 10th 2014

Deadline for abstract:  July 10th 2014

Notification of acceptance: August 31th 2014

Full paper: December 1st 2014


Erik Angner (George Mason university, USA), Richard Arena (Université
de Nice Sophia-Antipolis), Laurie Bréban (Université Paris 8, France),
Luigino Bruni (Università Lumsa a Roma, Italy), Annie L. Cot
(Université Paris 1, France), Agnès Festré (Université de Picardie
Jules Verne, France), Till Grüne Yanoff (Royal Institute of
Technology, KTH, Sweden), Alessandro Innocenti (Università di Siena,
Italy), Ivan Moscati (Insubria University, Italy), Annika Wallin
(Lunds Universitet, Sweden).


Philippe MONGIN (CNRS & HEC Paris, France), Floris HEUKELOM (U.
Nijmegen, Netherdlands), Robert SUGDEN (University of East Anglia,
United Kingdom).


“Psychology is evidently at the basis of political economy and, in
general, of all the social sciences. A day will come when we will be
able to deduce the laws of the social science from the principles of
psychology” (Pareto, Manual of Political Economy, 1909, II, §1)

Neoclassical economics was built upon a theory of rational behavior
that pretended to be independent from psychological foundations.
Actually, Pareto, who has been instrumental in laying the foundations
of modern utility and rational choice theory, uphold that economics
and psychology needed to develop separately and that the hopes for
reconciling psychology, economics and sociology in the social sciences
“still remain some way off”.

Over thirty years or so, an important part of economics has been
oriented towards realizing Pareto’s prophecy that a day would come
when economics and psychology would benefit from reconciling each
others, opening the way for a better understanding of individual and
collective behaviors. This reconciliation comes after a period of time
during which economics has developed its tools and principles away
from psychology (or so the standard narrative argues), on the mere
assumption that rational behavior could be described satisfactorily
with a well-behaved utility function. For many economists, the
offspring of this collective effort is called “behavioral economics”,
and it is sometimes viewed a new paradigm in economics, providing
tools and principles that may be applied to different fields of
economic inquiry (finance, development economics, game theory, etc.).

Basics of behavioral economics are now part of any curricula in
economics. The advent of behavioral economics has often been
associated with a story-telling argument about its early development
in the 1970s and its establishment, focusing on three main points: 1)
the legitimization of experimental methods in economics; 2) the
usefulness of concepts and ideas borrowed from psychology to increase
the explanatory or predictive power of the theory of rational
behavior; 3) the advent of a renewed view of human behavior and hence
of new ideas in normative economics.

Actually, Pareto’s opening quotation reminds us also that psychology
(in different guises) has been a fundamental issue for economists even
since 18th century, if only because economists have usually grounded
their own theory of economics on some ideas about human nature, and
especially on human desires and beliefs.

In recent years, historians of economic thought and theoreticians have
shown an interest in understanding the ins and outs of the behavioral
turn in economics, and more broadly, on the introduction of
psychological elements in economic explanations. Some have focused on
recent history, enhancing the different trends of behavioral
economics. Others have dealt with the nascent of behavioral economics
and the early collaboration between economists and psychologists in
the 1950s. Still some others have tried to understand how the
marginalist school of thought had relied on the experimental
psychology of its time–namely psychophysics–and how it had
progressively been expelled out of the realm of economics, at least
temporarily, with Pareto and Fisher. However, those contributions have
not been coordinated and we are far from having a comprehensive
overview of the complex history of the relationships between economics
and psychology.

The aim of this conference is to gather contributions from historians
of economics and historians of psychology (including cognitive
sciences), and also from historically-oriented researchers and
philosophers of these disciplines. The overall ambition is to
understand the way economics has dealt with psychological arguments,
methods and concepts throughout history and to highlight the main
debates between economists and psychologists that have fostered and
are still fostering behavioral economics. It is hoped that these will
pave the way for an overall vision of the history of the relationships
between economics and psychology and of the methodological
transformations of economics as a discipline.

The organizers wish to limit the number of contributions so that most
of the conference will take place in plenary sessions. Interested
contributors are asked to indicate their interest in participating to
the conference to A COMPLETER. The deadline for submitting an abstract
is July 10th 2014. It is hoped that the contributions to the
conference will in turn lead to the publication of a comprehensive
reference book with short versions of papers and to thematic issues in

Below is a non-exhaustive list of topics, authors and schools of thought:

·         Psychology in economics before the marginalist revolution
(Hume, Smith, Condillac, Quesnay)

·         Psychophysics, psychology and the (pre)marginalists (Gossen,
Jevons, Walras, Marshall, Edgeworth, Pareto and Fisher, psychology in
the Austrian tradition)

·         Psychologists, economists, and the birth and development of
experimental psychology (1850-1950)

·         Psychology in the institutionalist and Keynesian schools of
thought (Veblen, Mitchell, J.M Clark, Keynes, Duesenberry,
Post-Keynesian school).

·         How psychologists came to study decision and choice after
World War II (Edwards, Davidson, Luce, Suppes, Siegel, etc).

·         The role and importance of ‘mathematical psychology’ and of
the ‘representational theory of measurement’

·         Allais’s paradox and other decision paradoxes from the point
of view of economics and psychology.

·         National traditions in the development of “economic
psychology” (in relation with social psychology) and early behavioral
economics in the USA (Katona, Simon), France, Germany, England, Italy,

·         How psychologists have been involved in the development of
behavioral economics and alternative paradigms to study economic
behavior (e.g. Kahneman, Tversky, Slovic, Gigerenzer)?

·         Did economics borrow concepts and laws from psychology or
did they rather borrow methods?

·         What has been the influence of behavioral sciences,
marketing and business studies on the development of behavioral

·         What have been the effects of behavioral economics on public
policy? Which role played public policy in the development of
behavioral economics?

·         What have been the after effects of behavioral economics on
the representation of utility and welfare? (Pigou, Boulding,
Scitovsky, Easterlin, Happiness economics)

·         How has behavioral economics come into different fields of
economics (finance, development economics, health economics, social
choice, public economics, normative economics)?

·         The historical development of neuroeconomics and its links
with psychology.

·         The role of normative considerations in the development of
behavioral economics, and the links between normative and behavioral

If you are interested in participating in this conference, please send
a notification of interest mentioning the theme of your contribution
by June 10th 2014 and an abstract of approximately 1000 words prepared
for blind review by July 10th 2014. Send your abstract by email at  with the following information:

Name and surname


Title of your contribution


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