Inside Economic Man

Behavioral Economics and Consumer Behavior

Authored by: Paul Albanese

Handbook of Contemporary Behavioral Economics

Print publication date:  July  2006
Online publication date:  January  2015

Print ISBN: 9780765613028
eBook ISBN: 9781315703879
Adobe ISBN: 9781317469162


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The enigmatic title of this essay stems from the psychoanalytic approach to personality and consumer behavior—psychoanalytic object relations theory of the personality, to be precise. Object relations theory is what psychoanalytic theory became after more than a century of refinement of Freud’s most fundamental insights. Object relations theory is an interpersonal theory of personality development that concentrates on the internalization of interpersonal relationships and the formation of the intrapsychic structure of the personality organization. The "inside" of the title refers to the intrapsychic structure of the personality organization. All that is left inside Economic Man of neoclassical ordinal utility theory is the scale of preferences of the individual consumer. The theoretical linkage between psychoanalytic object relations theory of the personality and neoclassical ordinal utility theory of the consumer is that the intrapsychic structure of the personality organization is reflected in the structure of the consumer’s preferences.

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