Economists Do It With Models

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What My (Non)Students Have Been Learning, Behavioral Economics And The Simpsons Edition…

November 16th, 2012 · 5 Comments
Behavioral Econ · The Simpsons

You’d think that my students would be sick of hearing me talk by now, but instead one of them invited me to speak at a meeting of the Northeastern University Economics Society. (Not coincidentally, they were also selling their version of an Economists Do It With Models T-shirt.) When I asked my student what I should talk about, the answer was the something along the lines of “Could you talk a little bit about what behavioral economics is? And about your site? And about the economics of The Simpsons? Oh, and this meeting is joint with the Finance and Investing Club, so could you make it relevant to finance as well? By the way, you have 40 minutes.” Thanks Annie. =P

I tried my best to work within those parameters, and I think it went pretty well. I told the students that I would make the slides from the talk available, so I figured I would put them up here for everyone. (I also added a few things in order to make the slides make a bit more sense as a standalone thing.)

Note: To advance properly through the animation, just use the single triangle button when you want to move forward. (You may ave to click twice or wait until the slide finishes “playing.”) If you are experiencing difficulties, you probably need to install the latest versions of Flash and Shockwave from Adobe.


In case Flash causes you headaches or you want to view the presentation offline, I made a PDF version for you. In addition, you can find the Simpsons chapter referenced in the presentation slides here.

Tags: Behavioral Econ · The Simpsons

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Bo Zimmerman // Nov 16, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    That was interesting. I have a question on the last slide. What ‘s my “Objective long-run interest”? Does that suggest utility is objective instead of subjective? That there is such a thing as Correct trade-offs, or ‘Just’ Prices? You see where I’m going — the term, on it’s face, seems to defy some basic things I had learned about price theory. Thanks!

  • 2 econgirl // Nov 17, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    That’s a totally reasonable question, and you’re right that, in a of ways, it’s important not to judge people’s preferences or say what’s “right” to like and dislike. Therefore, any use of the word “objective” really means “based on all available information being processed in an unbiased manner.”

    When behavioral economists identify irrationalities, they are careful to not treat observations of the “wtf were you thinking” form as automatically irrational and instead focus on situations where preferences appear to be inconsistent.

  • 3 Awesome Post At EconomistsDoItWithModels.com | Econmancer // Nov 18, 2012 at 10:13 am

    [...] Here is what she came up with. Share this:More Tags: behavioral, Economics, finance, investing, simpsons [...]

  • 4 Mike Fladlien // Nov 24, 2012 at 6:44 am

    If I wanted to learn behavior economics from the ground up, where would I begin?

  • 5 Brian Donohue // Nov 26, 2012 at 12:47 am

    Hilarious slides.

    I think behavioralists should sort their stuff between (a) bad decisions people make and what can be done to help, and (b) the more insoluble or ambiguous, though perhaps more interesting issues.

    Some, perhaps many, behavioral issues can be overcome with clear, disciplined thinking. Others are conundrums of the human condition. It’s not always clear to me where Kahneman, e.g., comes down on each issue he discusses.

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