This book is based on the thesis that economic processes stem directly from human behavior and that this simple but important fact has not received its due in modern economic analysis. The author has set for himself the task of describing a psychological approach to economic analysis and the current research in the field of economic behavior.
The book is not written for the scholar alone. It is addressed to everyone who is interested in what is going on in present-day American economic life and who believes that studying the behavior of consumers and businessmen is a worth-while undertaking. The book is also intended to be used by students at our colleges. Several years of experience in offering psychological-economic courses to both undergraduate and graduate students have convinced the author that there is a great need for courses which integrate two or more disciplines. He hopes that the availability of an interdisciplinary textbook will promote the establishment of courses of this kind.
As the first chapter attempts to show, resources both of economics and of psychology need to be used to arrive at a realistic analysis of economic behavior. The book therefore includes psychology, that is, the presentation of methods, findings, and principles which traditionally belong to that discipline. It includes economics, that is, the discussion of data and theories contained in books and periodicals under the name of that discipline. Yet, to follow the argument, it is not necessary to be familiar with both psychology and economics. The author has aspired to present psychological principles so as to be understandable to readers whose background is primarily economic, and economic principles so as to be understandable to those whose background is psychological.
Because the book is meant for the general public as well as the expert, each chapter is divided into text and "Notes." Reading of the text, unencumbered by numerous footnotes, suffices for the understanding of the argument. The notes contain additional data, report the sources of the data, and refer to confirmatory or contradictory evidence found in literature.
The author is, of course, alone responsible for the selection and presentation of the findings and principles. He is, however, greatly indebted to several persons and organizations without whose aid the book could not have been written. For the past ten years he has been engaged in large-scale empirical studies which, by their very nature, represent group activities. First . . .