The Behavioral Approach and the Rationality of Economic Decisions: Application to Banks Managers

By Jarboui, Sami; Boujelbene, Younes | Global Business and Management Research: An International Journal, April 2012 | Go to article overview
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The Behavioral Approach and the Rationality of Economic Decisions: Application to Banks Managers

Jarboui, Sami, Boujelbene, Younes, Global Business and Management Research: An International Journal


In traditional economic theory, perfectly rational agents make logical and justified decisions on perfect markets. Nevertheless, everyday life of investors, executives, managers and general economic agents is not the one of a "homoeconomicus" rational and cannot pretend to behave like a mathematical model. The emerging field of behavioral economics seeks to develop more precise theory on the behavior of economic agents. The recent success of this new approach shows how the gap between economic theory and reality can take time to fill.

Indeed, everyone understands that a pure economic theory cannot but approach the real-world conditions. Standard economic models exclude emotions because they are too complex, unruly and ephemeral. But today, the behavioral economists add a psychological dimension to the traditional economic model to take account of emotions and human irrationality. According to them, by observing interactions between rational decision making and intuitive, thus obtaining a more sophisticated and realistic about how the economy really works. This new approach may have a fundamental influence on economic theory of the future. This is why central bankers, policymakers and economists of the dominant school, are now showing a growing interest in the ideas of behavioral economics.

In this context, this research intends to establish and develop the field of behavioral economics by adopting a nature of Human more realistic than commonly-used in economics, by using behavioral approaches inspired by psychology. It is therefore a descriptive study being carried out primarily through a literature review. This development is similar to complementarity, on some points, with a revolution of paradigms. Indeed, we find that some authors, such as Hermalin and Isen (2000), study the behavioral approach in the context of rationality (primarily substantive) and others such as Shiller (2000) and Camerer (2003) analyze behavior outside of this context.

Indeed, our research aims to explain and determine the significance of the explanatory power of behavioral approaches in the research developments in economic decision behavior. In the context of rationality, the development of the behavioral approach introduced and developed individual characteristics, a posteriori theory.

Emotions in this context are mainly obstacles to reflection or a factor incorporated in the utility (Hermalin and Isen, 2000). The resources approach, bounded rationality and the inclusion of skills, different ways of taking into account implicitly the behavior of agents in the context of rationality. Instead, the alternative view (behavioral approach) attempts to establish new behavioral assumptions by introducing behavioral biases that are inconsistent with rationality. Indeed, under the assumption of rationality, some behavior is considered irrational.

The behavioral approach

Behavioral economics is a branch of economics that studies the behavior of agents in economic situations. One of the principal objectives of behavioral economics is particularly to describe and explain why in some situations, the agents have non-rational or irrational behavior. "Behavioral economics" is a designation given by U.S. researchers, behaviorism, consider that this area is mainly based on behaviorist psychology. Behavioral economics is not confined to a single study of symptoms (economic effects in this case) and pair stimulus (reaction), even if the phenomena of under-reaction and over-reaction studied by Thaler (1987), that are part of this discipline of economic analysis; She appealed also to many other concepts, so that individual psychology of social psychology, especially anything that relates to emotional and cognitive biases, whatever the result of individual or group effects "collective".

It must be noted a large part of the research of behavioral economics and the phenomena observed is common with those of behavioral finance: in point where the two disciplines are often synthesized.

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