Studying Economics Can Turn You Into A Horrible Person

Joffrey baratheon game of thronesHBO / Helen SloanJoffrey Baratheon, ‘Game of Thrones’

Self-interest motivates Adam Smith’s invisible hand, but economists may be taking it way too seriously.

A blog post by Adam Grant in Psychology Today explores how economics majors are, on average, awful human beings. Grant quotes a study by three Cornell professors which provides evidence that economists are less charitable, more deceitful and less likely to be concerned with fairness.

From the post:

“Along with directly learning about self-interest in the classroom, because selfish people are attracted to economics, students end up surrounded by people who believe in and act on the principle of self-interest. Extensive research shows that when people gather in groups, they develop even more extreme beliefs than where they started. Social psychologists call this group polarization. By spending time with like-minded people, economics students may become convinced that selfishness is widespread and rational―or at least that giving is rare and foolish.”

So it’s not really the economists’ fault. Spending hours debating the pros and cons of an economic theory will just do that to a person.

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