Economic Psychology

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Economic Psychology

How and why markets aren't rational. Navigational tips for charting the Bermuda Triangle of human economic behavior.

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I Take Matters Into My Own Hands
Undaunted, unapologetic, and with a budget at my disposal, I decided to pursue the question by commissioning a small research project on the meaning of money. However, as it turned out, the topic was anything but small.

Initial Stab at the 'Project'
Having 'washed that fork,' I shall now resume my tale.

In a marginally work-related state of mind (but really out of plain old curiosity), I started to ponder the question(s): If banks' 'products,' various forms of money, are intangible, are their characteristics also intangible? If so, what are they?. What states of mind and/or innate psychological characteristics do they reflect? Just as tangible products have tangible "features" and often-intangible "benefits," so must intangible products have features and benefits. Of course with money, the tangible feature is found in the myriad concrete outcomes it can produce--e.g., that car it can help you buy. But what about money's intangible features and benefits? If, as a bank marketing manager, your job is to sell your company's 'product,'--which is after all a commodity since every other bank is selling it too--you'd better know the answers to these questions.

As you might imagine, when I suggested this line of reasoning to my fellow bank managers, I was met with a series of quizzical stares and/or polite silence followed by a change of subject. My equally predictable reaction was to become even more convinced that there must be some answers, and that I needed to find them.

Knowledge Management Dilemma
Somehow, having ruminated over this topic for oh, maybe 15 years (optimistically), I can't seem to get anything to transfer from my brain to the (virtual) page. Random thought--great economic achievement does not usually result from procrastination.

(Note that procrastination was my dissertation topic. Yes, I did graduate--I was the first in my class to do so. It was a paradoxical intervention).

A major milestone in my personal 'cure' came when I resolved that rather than setting out to wash the mountain of dishes in my sink, I would instead courageously endeavor to wash one fork. The implementation was a success!! In fact I washed several forks, and maybe a spoon or two.

In short, please consider this post to be my economic psychology 'fork.'