Journal Article

No. 2014-24 | June 18, 2014
Scitovsky, Behavioural Economics, and Beyond PDF Icon
(Published in Special Issue Economics, Psychology and Choice Theory)


Scitovsky is known as a forerunner of behavioural economics simply because he drew heavily on psychology and claimed that people’s choices may be ‘joyless’ (Scitovsky, The joyless economy, 1976). However, a careful reformulation of his analysis shows that he anticipated a number of insights (also with respect to Kahneman’s ‘two-systems of thought’) which suggest new lines of inquiry from an original and different perspective. These insights of Scitovsky regard the following aspects: Uncertainty as a condition where the outcomes of choosing a particular option (novelty) is partially unknown; the case of individual ‘consumption skill’ (inclusive of emotions) that finds this uncertainty desirable when it is challenging; the case of increasing such skill so as to change preferences and make choices more efficient; the case of failing to increase such skill so as to make addictive harmful products an alternative and more tempting option.

JEL Classification

B31 D03 D11


Maurizio Pugno (2014). Scitovsky, Behavioural Economics, and Beyond. Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, 8 (2014-24): 1—29.


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