Human nature as we know it: inter- and intrapersonal perspectives on opportunism and commitment
Institute of Development Policy and Management
Antwerpen :UFSIA, 1999
Research paper / UFSIA, Faculty of Applied Economics ; 1999:028
University of Antwerp
In the New Institutional Economics, an argument has been made to found theoretical models on "human nature as we know it. Though this argument has served to defend the assumption of opportunism, it can also be used to explore other models of man. In particular, we scrutinise what kind of intuitively convincing assumptions can be made about the human mind so as to allow for the theoretical existence of social norms. The paper is structured as a review of solutions to the trust-game. First, this game is proposed, and compared to other, related games. Then, we scrutinize some common solutions to the game, and the (explicit or implicit) models of man they build on. Third, we explore a solution which combines temporary preference theory and the classical Smithian insights about the social embeddedness of men. Finally, we illustrate the argument by reviewing some well-known arguments in development economics.