Does economics make you selfish?

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  • Published on Aug 31, 2018
  • Thank you so muych for watching my videos. In this video I explore some arguments regarding why economics makes people selfish. I inlcuded several artciles about the subject below. Please feel free to read them over and let me know if you agree or disagree. Obviously, I pretty biased since I love and teach economics, but the evidence is pretty strong.
    evonomics.com/more-evidence-that-learning-economics-makes-you-selfish/
    www.npr.org/2017/02/21/516375434/does-studying-economics-make-you-selfish
    journals.aom.org/doi/abs/10.5465/amle.2009.0185
    Greg Mankiw: Does econ make people conservative?
    gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2006/12/does-econ-make-people-conservative.html

Comments • 102

  • iamsaztak
    iamsaztak 8 months ago

    haha I don't buy it. It stinks of political bias. Lefties don't want people studying economics because if you understand economics, you're less likely to support left-leaning (ie, economically disastrous) policies.

    Learning economics doesn't make you selfish. It helps you understand the real world better. It's just teaching 'cold hard truths' about scarcity and human choice that lefties don't want to acknowledge or accept. Which is why they're left leaning and think a field like economics is 'right-leaning'.

    I wouldn't be surprised if economics student were more right-leaning than most other fields. The others lean left, after all, so even centrists count as 'more right-leaning'....it is a subjective judgement after all.

    in my experience, economics is more independent than the soft sciences. it doesn't preach to you or expect you to follow a certain political belief to pass. it's all about understanding the models, which are pretty basic game-theory-style concepts at their core. that's probably why it offends lol

  • Mr. Chopsticks
    Mr. Chopsticks 10 months ago

    It’s why my parents donate to specific orphanage with money. Why not go there and help out? Give out the books, clothes.
    Well, in that few hours. My parents could’ve struck up a deal and make more money.
    The opportunity cost is too high to be there in person.
    In their own self interest, they’ve donated more money than actually being there.

  • Marcel Mir
    Marcel Mir 11 months ago

    If people want to help others at the expense of themself, they still do it only for themself. They do it to get attention or confirmation or hope to profit of it later. The more important difference between real human and homo economicus is the subjective information processing in the irrational decisions. But being selfish, at least 95% of people are having that totally in common with homo economicus - it just occurs in ways that sometimes also seem to be selfless.

  • Paulo m
    Paulo m 11 months ago

    It doesnt make you selfish. The study suggests this... but as you pointed out, there are several hypothesis of why would that be. I, for one, find it hard to believe the study of the subject makes people less humane in some ways. Need more studies

  • Alexander Sarantis
    Alexander Sarantis 11 months ago

    If there are people struggling with the morality behind economics and human behavior. Thomas Sowells: A conflict of visions. Does a great job explaining the two.

  • Leon Petkov
    Leon Petkov 11 months ago

    Hello! This type of videos is really great, in my opinion! I really enjoy them. Of course, the more 'to the book' videos are great, as well, but these ones are 'to the life', really. Thanks!

  • Michael Pisciarino
    Michael Pisciarino 11 months ago

    0:38 Rational Self-Interest. Homo Economicus.
    1:23 Studies findings
    1:58 Greed, how do you define it?
    2:37 Traffic example
    2:53 Self-Interested vs Selfish
    4:28 Greg Manikiw
    5:03 Express opinions (what ifs are hard to picture)

  • Richa Vohra
    Richa Vohra Year ago

    Economics rocks!!!

  • A one legged man
    A one legged man Year ago +5

    “I have never understood why it is "greed" to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else's money.”

    ― Thomas Sowell

  • A one legged man
    A one legged man Year ago +1

    can you talk about human action by mises?

  • Complaining Qoheleth

    I'd put the reason for economics having so many conservatives is capitalism generating a lot of profit and planned economies being inefficient. Maybe they do care about other people and the poor but in the Anglo-American world people are stuck in this mentality of either free market-inequality and planned economy-equality so however bad capitalism might go people take the attitude of ''es gibt kein alternativ''. Rarely outside of devout Catholic circles do people consider a social market economy because they haven't heard of it.

  • Brooke Foster
    Brooke Foster Year ago +1

    I loved this video, Mr. Clifford. This really hit the nail on the head for me. I've always had very liberal political views, but I've found that since starting my economics degree, I am aligning with conservative policy. Can there truly be a balance between the two? I used to empathize with humanity but I am seeing things from an economic and financial point of view without much consideration for the people.
    Anyways, thank you so much for your videos. I like this format but I like the other as well. A mix of the two would be wonderful.

  • Jonathan Haughton

    It is not my experience that my fellow economists are more selfish than non-economists. Alan Blinder's book "Soft hearts hard head" captures the spirit much better. Economists tend to think rationally, which is surely why few are religious; since about half of charitable donations go to churches, the lack of enthusiasm for organized religion by economists goes a long way toward "explaining" why economists give less to charity.

  • JK
    JK Year ago +2

    You quoted Murray Rothbard. You have balls. I like you.
    Jokes aside thanks for all of your videos Mr Clifford! I got an A in my Economics A level (it's the UK's equivalent of a high scool education certificate, I think you guys call it a diploma) thanks to you!
    I started out as a liberal, I was pro every gov intervention to "help the poor", I studied econ and now I'm a libertarian; fiscally conservative and socially liberal, much like Rothbard.
    I'm doing an financial economics undergrad now, again because of you!
    I like the new background. Keep up the good work 👍👍😊😊

  • David A. Taylor
    David A. Taylor Year ago

    Your stuff is good, keep it up!

  • Eminem Vevo
    Eminem Vevo Year ago

    Greed is important.. All big business tycoons are greedy....if you are not greedy we can't reach that level..

  • Helena 1.0
    Helena 1.0 Year ago

    This is pure wisdom.

  • Patrick Holt
    Patrick Holt Year ago

    I think 2 reasons for this observation is that some people really don't understand what the studies of economics is about and equate it with finance, and 2 as Behavioral economics gains more visibility, the idea of Homo Economicus will go away. I always viewed that model of a person just a very very simplified model of a person used for teaching introductory economics.

  • Greg Nelson
    Greg Nelson Year ago

    Great video, like the format. I am finishing Russ Roberts book about Adam Smith's The theory of Moral Sentiments, and I feel we may be using his quote out of his entire context. As Smith said, we do things to be "lovely, and loved". So Im not sure the whole self interest, as we use it today, was his intent. Again just starting to get into this a little deeper. And I am certain that students today do NOT start off with Utopian views, believing Govt can fix everything. I feel it's quite the opposite, they do not believe the govt can do anything for them.
    Thanks for keeping us informed!

  • Jean
    Jean Year ago

    Yes please, more videos like this!

  • Dalibor Krajc
    Dalibor Krajc Year ago

    WoW ! Impressed. Coherent !

  • Jeanne Wynne Herring

    What a great topic. I'm not an economist. I'm an artist. But, my experiences help me recognize logic and act less on my emotions where it's appropriate. Your answer to the first question is logical and I admit I never thought of it. However, I do believe we all obsess too much with more which leads to a bad cycle that we are stuck in. None are innocent of wanting more than we need. With the second question, I no longer give to charities after working as a manager for the Salvation Army. In my position I worked with the donations. I got to see the ugly truth about how charity works. I prefer helping people directly. The third, often when people use logic as oppose to allowing their emotions to run their lives, they can be seen as cold hearted. We all need each other. The emotional needs the logical and the logical needs the emotional. If we use our strengths to work together as oppose to putting each other down, we can do wonders for this world. Forming a wisemind bond is more important than being right. In my opinion. I love your work Clifford! Thank you for everything you do!

  • Rebecca Tyndall
    Rebecca Tyndall Year ago

    As a teacher, I'm loving the new format. Loved the old, too, though. I am excited about the new concepts and foci of your upcoming videos. You have been a true lifesaver for me in teaching AP Econ and I am forever grateful for your contributions to this discipline--and so are my students! :)

  • Yasmin Farzan
    Yasmin Farzan Year ago +1

    Oh man, I love economics soooo muchhhh!!! and I think it might make you a little more selfish but it definitely made me a more passionate and understanding person

  • Right-wing libertarian

    I absolutely love that you quoted the great Austrian economist Murray Rothbard

  • Thien Nguyen
    Thien Nguyen Year ago

    @ACDCLeadership: Is it true to say More than half of the money issued by the government is actually held by people in foreign countries. A country is hence less than half as wealthy as government statistics indicate?

  • Roadtoad
    Roadtoad Year ago

    Please keep doing these videos! I love to hear your perspective on subjects related to economics. I am a new Econ major and listening to you explain things in an economic way is really helpful for me to understand concepts better. For instance in this video you touched on the trade off of equality and efficiency in allocating societies resources and I feel like it sinks in better when I hear it from you and read about it also.

  • Marco R
    Marco R Year ago

    Hey I bought your ultimate review packet and clicked on it many times to try to save it on my phone, because it’s better than having it on my laptop but since I clicked on it many times at the same hour it told me it expired smh

  • Alex Pagnetti
    Alex Pagnetti Year ago +13

    People who don't like economics are illogical

  • Nyro
    Nyro Year ago

    I don't think it makes you selfish as a whole but allows you to have a wider perception, thus acting selfish in some ways due to a better understanding.

  • ashanti campbell
    ashanti campbell Year ago +4

    My father told me that minimum wage was gonna be raised again, and instead of being happy that high schoolers like me working jobs that pay minimum wage were gonna have more money, my exact thought was "a lot of ppl are gonna get fired because employers won't be able to pay as many workers". I don't think I was being selfish, but I'm sure without the economics classes that I took i wouldn't have known the dangers of raising minimum wage.

    • willofdodge1
      willofdodge1 10 months ago

      Wouldn't higher minimum wage lead to more automation which historicaly improves the working lives of those still employed

  • Aura Companion
    Aura Companion Year ago

    I want to be selfish

  • Roni Rk
    Roni Rk Year ago

    You made me pass my econ, now I'm here to listen :)

  • Rohan Arihaan
    Rohan Arihaan Year ago +1

    Hi Mr Clifford,
    can u please make a video about demonetisation in India.
    whether this policy was good or bad.

  • Harpreet Singh
    Harpreet Singh Year ago +4

    Makes you smarter

  • Chidera Esinaulo
    Chidera Esinaulo Year ago +1

    Mr Clifford, you have great oratory skills.

  • d_dave
    d_dave Year ago +2

    Even your own analogy betrays the problem. Changing lanes is fine... except that each person driving in self-interested ways is a big cause of traffic in the first place. Ironically, if everyone would slow down and try to keep distances equal and consistent, the overall traffic flow would be *higher*. Similarly, self-interest can end up with a much worse outcome for society, especially short-term self-interest, which many economists seem to implicitly promote.
    The problem with economics isn't the study of economics, it's that the way economics is taught glorifies this idea of self-interest until it becomes its own moral good, even though in reality it certainly isn't. If your goal is maximum economic efficiency, the result will be huge amounts of suffering in the world. Wealth inequality will be huge and unavoidable. Such a situation is economically very efficient, but not morally desirable. Heck, slavery is even more economically efficient depending on how you measure it, but obviously we're no longer willing to make that trade off.

    • Paulo m
      Paulo m 11 months ago

      Interestingly, I have read some articles actually demonstrating how a sistematically controlled traffic (and sistematically planned roads) would improve commute times. But hey, you still have an interesting point

    • d_dave
      d_dave Year ago

      Yeah -- that's a good example of the kind of thing I'm talking about.

  • ineffable life
    ineffable life Year ago +1

    you are great . from India

  • C H
    C H Year ago +2

    I’m a big fan of economics but many times I found myself taken back by the sociopathic analysis of many popular economists like the Freakonomics guys. It is sad but true, a lot of economists are probably in the spectrum of either sociopathy or autism. Every job attracts a certain type and the extreme type attracted by economics tends to be a bit sociopathic.

    • C H
      C H Year ago

      Oh yeah. That was an old study out of which a million articles came. But to be honest, probably every job attracts a certain type and the extreme type is always going to be unhealthy. I work in a creative field and I can tell you the arts attract the neurotic type. Not a good thing either. Whatever you do it is good to be aware that there are more things in the world.

    • Jacob Clifford
      Jacob Clifford  Year ago +1

      I saw a videos once that said that a disproportionate number of CEOs were sociopathys. I'll see if I can find it. Let me know if you find it first.

  • Joey Fletcher
    Joey Fletcher Year ago +7

    I believe the reason that many more professors in economics, as compared to other fields, prefer capitalistic economies is due to the fact that people are used more as a statistic of productivity. You would be extremely ignorant to claim that capitalism isn't the most productive economic system ever created, but how sustainable can it be. As time goes on people begin to notice how much more is being created and how little their lives are improving in comparison. I believe if this practice is continued, stability among the masses will become start to become more and more unstable (hence why the push for more social programs are becoming stronger). It's not socialism no matter how much Bernie and others would like to claim as it's not calling for a seizure of the means of production and/or changing the relations of production, it's simply a call for an expansion of the welfare state. Gabriel Almond of Stanford university has a great analysis of the subject in which he revises Joseph Schumpeters claims that socialism is inevitable in the future and claim that social democratic solutions will be the solution for maintaining societal stability. I believe this to be true among necessities (expanding the welfare state for necessities not luxuries). Yes there will be a sacrifice of productivity but the exchange for more societal stability is what I believe many economic professors are not accounting for since that's not an economic statistic. Many just recognize the loss of productivity and if you're a good economist you would have to claim that to be negative. I don't think economist are greedy, selfish individuals, rather focus on the sole factor of maximizing productivity.

    • Mitch S
      Mitch S Year ago

      Joey Fletcher i agree with almost all of your points. I believe in the future, like you’ve said, we’re going to have to sacrifice lots of personal freedom for a better world altogether.
      However, if there’s one point I’m not sure about, it’s how we’ll get there. Sure, pollution is bad. And we will have to cut lots of pollution for a better world. But is it fair to tell China and India to stop polluting, even though the US and Europe have already done so in the past 100 years? So it’s bit of a paradox: we all want a sustainable, peaceful planet. What’s unclear is how to get there.
      Finally, I wonder about the effects of a so called socialist policy would have on entrepreneurship. Would people adapt and change as fast in a comfortable environment? For one, forcing people to survive and not be comfortable has been a great driver of innovation (of course I’m not advocating for no support system at all. I believe there should be programs in place to help those below).
      So overall, it’s a tricky and precarious situation. I honestly believe what we should be doing is expand our mindsets regardless, and try out some different ideas, and not be stuck in dogmatic practices or outdated ideologies.

  • Joey Scott
    Joey Scott Year ago +1

    Maybe the real problem is folks' misunderstanding of terms. Greed and self-interest are not the same...

  • Ahmed Alkatheeri
    Ahmed Alkatheeri Year ago +1

    I graduated college and still watching his videos

    • Jacob Clifford
      Jacob Clifford  Year ago

      Seriously, thanks for watching. Were you an econ major?

  • Zach Philip
    Zach Philip Year ago +1

    The new background is fire!!

  • 2ergio
    2ergio Year ago +1

    Taking economics classes only made me believe more in communism aka be less selfish

    • 2ergio
      2ergio Year ago

      @Joey Fletcher no I'm referring to communism although I agree with what you have said

    • Jacob Clifford
      Jacob Clifford  Year ago

      I'm thinking about making a video about social democracy. Any suggestions on source material?

    • Joey Fletcher
      Joey Fletcher Year ago +1

      SxRG- you're most likely referring to social democracy, not communism. Communism entails an elimination of private property and productive enterprises in favor of communal ownership. Though I would love for the idea to work now, I simply don't believe it's sustainable at the current time. Defiantly possible in the future as technological advancements are made and start to become to the means of production, but while human labor is still the main means of production, I don't think it will work. Social democracy however does what you are aiming for (distributing resources towards the masses) while maintaining the core structure of capitalism in terms of the means and relation of production.

  • Abdul Ghani
    Abdul Ghani Year ago +1

    i love this new series man. 😍😍

  • quintessenceSL
    quintessenceSL Year ago +6

    My layman's take on economics was that it functioned as a kind of moral reasoning, clarifying different aspects of a dilemma. I mean are we going to call ethicist selfish too because they have to make hard decisions?
    At worst, economics removes a layer of sentimentality and emotionalism from a decision, which often translates as do you want a solution that feels good or one that works (efficiently)?
    I trust the entrepreneur to elevate the status of man more than the philanthropist.

  • Kenn Chen
    Kenn Chen Year ago +2

    It really depends on what would be considered as a selfish behavior, if helping others make someone feel better, then one can argue that the person is self motivated.

    • Jacob Clifford
      Jacob Clifford  Year ago

      Yes, I was going to add that in there. I should have. There is a scene in Star Trek 2 where Spock dies to save the crew of the ship. It is a good example of what you are talking about.

  • White Hat
    White Hat Year ago +1

    This looks more relatable. Perhaps a mix?

  • Isaac Liu
    Isaac Liu Year ago +1

    In general (and making the observation that many Economics students go for wall street or consulting jobs after graduation) I would say that yes, there is perhaps a tendency towards selfishness or at least self interest where perhaps too much value is placed on money. But the entire other half of the field, which focuses on policy and the public sector, how to make society work, is the exact opposite of selfishness.

    • Isaac Liu
      Isaac Liu Year ago

      Public service, most likely!

    • Jacob Clifford
      Jacob Clifford  Year ago

      Agreed. Economics helps in both cases. Which path are you going for? Money or public service?

  • Ciarán Sheil
    Ciarán Sheil Year ago +1

    love the vids

  • Frozenwolf
    Frozenwolf Year ago +1

    Keep making videos to help pass tests, got a 2,1 because of your help in economics!! But do this as well because it was very interesting

  • LeHyman
    LeHyman Year ago +2

    I studied economics since O levels, now I am doing economics in A levels and plan to study more into Macroeconomics. So far I've become more neutral than following different economist. I prefer being an observer, research and use quantitative data, and qualitative data.
    Also, I do agree on your views. It just depends on the situation in life. 👏

  • LeHyman
    LeHyman Year ago +1

    I studied economics since O levels, now I am doing economics in A levels and plan to study more into Macroeconomics. So far I've become more neutral than following different economist. I prefer being an observer, research and use quantitative data, and qualitative data.
    Also, I do agree on your views. It just depends on the situation in life. 👏

    • A one legged man
      A one legged man Year ago

      read the road to serfdom and human action. economics is a study of human action.

  • karthik velly
    karthik velly Year ago +2

    More videos like this would be great.

  • karthik velly
    karthik velly Year ago +5

    Economics is AWESOME!!!!

  • Philippa Ettrick
    Philippa Ettrick Year ago +2

    I am really enjoying these new styles of practical-application videos! I have wondered about Economics making people more selfish or even conservative, but I love the fact that it forces me to be less idealistic and more practical.

  • Manav Sridharan
    Manav Sridharan Year ago +5

    Hey, loving the new background, and I for one think there is nothing wrong in being "greedy", if being greedy means maximizing efficiency.

  • Wisani Kenny
    Wisani Kenny Year ago +3

    Well, as you said Mr. Clifford, economists have a wide diversity of thought, so that explains why we make the decisions we make, and not to forget the idea of opportunity costs. So, I personally don't think it makes us selfish in any way.

  • Emanuel Valencia
    Emanuel Valencia Year ago +1

    I think economics does make u more selfish but I don’t think it tends to shift ppls political views as often as well. Ur two examples of saying the worker wanting more pay and business charging more on a product are great examples of economics making ppl more greedy. So yes I do think it does make u more greedy/selfish.

    • Jacob Clifford
      Jacob Clifford  Year ago

      Agreed. I gues the question should be "Is it bad to be greedy?

  • Dera Tomalty
    Dera Tomalty Year ago +1

    i like this!