Saturday, December 01, 2012

Why bad gifts are good and the blindspot of behavioral economics and psychology

Waldfogel's book Scroogenomics always gets a lot of play every Christmas these days, (see this Sunstein article for example) but this is also the problem with psychology and much of behavioral economics, it ignores the larger social significance of gifting. I always liked Camerer (AJS 1988) for a reason why gifts (like my own reasoning about apologies) are and *should be* hard to give. If gifts were easy to choose like cash, then they would convey no meaning, or in game theory terms, no information. It is the symbolic signifiers of gift giving that matter.

No comments: