The Economic Psychology of Everyday Life

The Economic Psychology of Everyday Life

The Economic Psychology of Everyday Life

The Economic Psychology of Everyday Life


From childhood through to adulthood, retirement and finally death, The Economic Psychology of Everyday Life uniquely explores the economic problems all individuals have to solve across the course of their lives. Webley, Burgoyne, Lea and Young begin by introducing the concept of economic behaviour and its study. They then examine the main economic issues faced at each life stage, including: * the impact of advertising on children * buying a first house and setting up home * changing family roles and gender-linked inequality * redundancy and unemployment * coping on a pension * obituaries, wills and inheritance. Finally they draw together the commonalties of economic problems across the lifespan, discuss generational and cultural changes in economic behaviour, and examine the significance of other, non-economic constraints, upon individuals. The Economic Psychology of Everyday Life provides a much-needed comprehensive and accessible guide to economic psychology which will be of great interest to researchers and students.


This book has been over four years in the writing. This might seem rather excessive for what is, after all, quite a slim volume. Our hope is that the passing of the years has enabled our ideas and our writing to mature, and that the book is robust, full-bodied and a pleasure to consume.

Our aim has been to provide an accessible and reasonably thorough (though not exhaustive) coverage of the most important issues in the rapidly developing area of economic psychology. the majority of economic psychologists are social psychologists by training and inclination, and so this book fits well in a series on applied social psychology. But it is important to be clear at the outset that economic psychology is a genuinely interdisciplinary enterprise: it draws on, and feeds back to, its main parent disciplines (economics and psychology) as well as the social sciences as a whole. So readers with backgrounds only in social psychology will encounter theories (such as buffer-stock models of saving) and techniques (such as those of experimental economics) that are unfamiliar to them. They should not be anxious on this score: we have made very little use of formal economic models and there are hardly any equations in the text.

The book does have a distinctive ‘Exeter’ flavour, as all four of us are members of the Economic Psychology Research Group at Exeter University. This flavour is reflected in two distinctive features - a concentration on the economic problems that people have to solve on a day-to-day basis and a life-span developmental approach. This means that we have concentrated more on what people actually do in their economic lives and less on how they think about economic matters. So, although there is substantial research on lay explanations and social representations of economic phenomena (and indeed we have done some work in this area ourselves), it is not discussed here. a life-span approach to economic psychology is genuinely novel. We have not used an explicit life-span theory, but have dealt with areas (e.g. paths to economic independence in late adolescence, the economic psychology of the elderly) that have previously been neglected.

Above all, we hope that we have managed to convey our enthusiasm for economic psychology and that some of the readers of the book will decide that this is the area for them. Economic psychology deals with real problems that matter to people, and with issues that pervade all of our lives. It needs new ideas, new techniques and new people. So join us!

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