COWEN: You’re an anthropologist. You’ve spent a lot of time with economists — coauthored, worked with Paul Romer, Colin Camerer, others. As an anthropologist, what do you find strange about the tribe known as econ? [laughs]
HENRICH: I had a real opportunity. I was very fortunate in my career to be a professor of psychology and a professor of economics at the same time but to be neither in some deep sense. I would get to go back and forth from seminars in economics and psychology.
In economics, there’s this really competitive culture. The way I like to describe it: If you’re giving a seminar in economics, the crowd — everybody’s trying to show who’s the smartest guy in the room. Just on your first slide, someone will raise their hand. (I’m like, I haven’t said anything yet!) Then they’ll try to ask the killer question which undercuts your whole talk so that they can get you right at the beginning.
HENRICH: Whereas psychologists, they’ll sit quietly. They watch your talk. You go through your whole PowerPoint. You probably touched a lot of different research projects.
Then there’ll be question time; at first no hands will go up. Then someone will be like, “I got a question.” Then they say, “I just have one small question. I mean, it was a great talk and this is just a very minor thing.”
Then it could be a killer question at that point when they’ve done the preface. It’s a very strong cultural difference between the econ tribe and the psychology tribe.
I’ve always wanted to write an ethnography: My Life among Two Strange Tribes: The Psychologists and the Economists.
Thursday, 15 December 2016
Joseph Henrich on the difference between economics and psychology
Tyler Cowen interviews anthropologist Joseph Henrich. At one point they talk about the difference between economics and psychology: