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Harro MAAS - University of Lausanne

" Moral Accounting Matters "

Abstract :
In his well-known papers on mental accounting and consumer choice, Richard Thaler followed Kahneman and Tversky’s lead in arguing that individuals make mistakes in making their mental accounts. In a famous criticism of psychophysics, Max Weber wrote that as a historical fact, individuals were increasingly shaping their behavior according to the rules of accounting, and in this sense behaved increasingly ‘rational’. I take both claims as a cue to discuss the relation between rational deliberation and accounting cultures in which I will concentrate on material practices of accounting. I.e. I will focus on the paper tools individuals use to organize their accounts and make up their minds. For reasons that I hope will become clear, I refer to these material practices as moral, not mental accounting. I will take my examples from very different time periods and countries. The upshot of my presentation is that mental accounting matters, but that behavioural economists forget its material practice, something already visible in the work of the early marginalists of the end of the nineteenth century.

juin 2019 :

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