Rethinking Human Nature:
The New Homo Economicus

By Nava Ashraf

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #132
Center for Bahá'í­ Studies: Acuto, Italy
July 2–5, 2015
(see list of papers from #132)

    This presentation describes a short history of the assumptions underlying the nature of man within the discipline of Economics, and the exciting new developments in behavioral economics, which incorporates psychology and economics. Behavioral economics challenges the classical economic assumption about human nature, that we make decisions to maximize a narrowly defined self-interest. Rigorous experiments carried out together between scholars, practitioners and policy makers have led to testing cherished assumptions within the discipline and to finding innovative, practical solutions in the field. The presenter will draw on her own research, drawing inspiration from the Baha'i Writings and using field experiments conducted with local field organizations and governments to test new ideas in behavioral economics, such as altruistic capital.

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