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H UMAN B EHAVIOR AND THE E CONOMIC W AY OF T HINKING Proposed Course Human Behavior and the Economic Way of Thinking will focus on decision-making in everyday life, the economic implications of current events, interesting bits of behavioral research we discover as the course progresses, and the consequences of economic choices for both decisionmakers and other parties. Although most of the activities addressed in this course will be viewed through the lens of economic reasoning, interpretations of behavior drawn from other disciplines (e.g., history, philosophy, sociology, psychology, anthropology) will also be emphasized. Topic 1. A Brief Taxonomy of the Behavioral Sciences Most taxonomies (classification systems), including this one, are unavoidably messy. Virtually all disciplines overlap somewhat in some ways. Examples include the shared use of the scientific method and mathematics, or reliance on certain paradigms . Behavioral sciences have a somewhat different focus than most non-behavioral disciplines – e.g., the arts, languages, or the physical and social sciences. Behavioral sciences reflect attempts to study behavior systematically: How do people behave? Why do they behave as they do? What are the consequences of their behavior? Discussion: Some disciplines (e.g., physics) seem to deal, at most, tangentially with behavior. To what extent do disciplines other than psychology, sociology, anthropology, and economics address human behavior? [E.g., history, literature, demography, linguistics, geography, political science, art, or biology.] What commonalities, if any, distinguish behavioral disciplines from other areas of study? A. ANTHROPOLOGY [biography] Anthropology is the study of similarities and differences in the socio-cultural and biological behaviors of human populations in all periods and in all parts of the world. B. ECONOMICS [glossary] Economics is the study of how individuals and societies allocate their limited resources in attempts to satisfy their unlimited wants. C. PSYCHOLOGY
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Psychology is a scientific discipline that studies mental processes and emotions, and how they affect the behavior of humans or animals. D. SOCIOLOGY Sociology is the study of human social behavior, especially the study of the origins, organization, institutions, and development of human society. Intersections among these four broad behavioral sciences and across such related fields of study as  political science, demography, and biology have yielded numerous subdisciplines, including: E. BEHAVIORAL ECONOMICS [glossary] Behavioral economics draws from the perspectives of psychology (and to a lesser extent, from anthropology, and sociology) to identify and explain human behavior that seems inconsistent with orthodox economic assumptions that decisionmaking is invariably rationally efficient and grounded in self interest. F.
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