Studying economics makes you a selfish person, according to researchers
Is anyone finding this hard to believe?
Today in news that comes as a surprise to absolutely nobody: studying economics makes students act more selfishly.
In the borderline-erotically titled “The Rapid Evolution of Homo Economicus: Brief Exposure to Neoclassical Assumptions Increases Self-Interested Behavior” researchers John Ifcher and Homa Zarghamee explain how what you study can change the kind of person you become.
An assumption that underlies virtually all mainstream economics is that people act in their own self-interest, and that to do so is completely rational. As it turns out, spending three years having the idea of rational self-interest drilled into you affects your behaviour.
To back this up, the researchers ran an experiment based on a common economic game, the ultimatum game. One of the two players is given a sum of money, say £20, and can choose how much to give to the other player. The second player is only able to accept this or reject this. They are unable to negotiate, and if they reject the offer, both players get nothing.
When normal people take part in the experiment, they tend to play nice and split the money evenly. However, when students with even a brief exposure to economics, and so the idea of rational self-interest, take part, the first player is likely to offer the second only £1. Greedy.
After all self-interest dictates that you want as much of that sweet sweet money as possible, and the other player can either take the measly offer or walk away empty-handed. Economics tells us it’s perfectly rational to do this.
So there you have it – never count on an economics student to split the bill.