Ernst Fehr – “De gustibus est Disputandum”

Prof. Ernst Fehr (Zurich) presents his research on the emerging science of Preference Formation. Individuals’ preferences are often taken as given. Economists have neglected the possibility that preferences can change (preferences are considered to be stable) and that different individuals have different preferences (homogeneity).  However, we all know that preferences are formed by social, economic and biological forces. In this lecture Prof. Fehr presents recent insights of preference formation using three examples taken from his research.

To know more, start by reading this paper:

Fehr, E., & Hoff, K. (2011). Tastes, Castes, and Cultures: the Influence of Society on PreferencesThe Economic Journal, F396-F412.

Abstract: Economists have traditionally treated preferences as exogenously given. Preferences are assumed to be influenced by neither beliefs nor the constraints people face. As a consequence, changes in behaviour are explained exclusively in terms of changes in the set of feasible alternatives. Here, we argue that the opposition to explaining behavioural changes in terms of preference changes is ill‐founded, that the psychological properties of preferences render them susceptible to direct social influences and that the impact of ‘society’ on preferences is likely to have important economic and social consequences.

This event was organized by the University of Leicester in November 2016. It was also a great opportunity to present the outstanding book “The Foundations of Behavioral Economic Analysis” written by Sanjit Dhami. strongly recommended!



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