A Foundation for Behavioral Economics

Jessica L. Cohen and William T. Dickens
William T. Dickens University Distinguished Professor of Economics & Social Policy - Northeastern University

December 1, 2001

Later Published in the American Economic Review, May 2002.

The core theory of behavior in Economics, which structures inquiry and provides a framework for empirical analysis, is largely responsible for the success of the discipline. Behavioral Economics (BE) challenges this theory, but has failed to provide a coherent alternative. Consequently the influence of BE has been limited. In what follows we argue that Evolutionary Psychology (EP), suitably adapted, can provide at least a partial foundation for BE. Its methods offer a way of generating theories of the origins of anomalous behaviors and of testing those theories.