The Atlantic

Economics: The Discipline That Refuses to Change

Behavioral economics upended the idea that humans act solely in their rational self-interest. So why do most undergrads barely learn anything about the field?
Source: Alexander Spatari / Getty

In the late 1800s, one of the most enduring fictional characters of all time first appeared on the scene. No, I am not talking about Sherlock Holmes or Oliver Twist, but a less well-known though arguably more influential individual: Homo economicus.

Literally meaning “economic man,” the origins of the term are somewhat obscureearly references can be traced to the Oxford economist —but his characteristics have become all too familiar. He is infinitely rational, possessing both unlimited cognitive capacity and access to information, but with the persona of the Marlboro Man: ruggedly self-centered, relentlessly materialistic, and a complete lone ranger. , created to personify the

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