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Neo-Classical Assumptions and the Behavioral Theorists


The evolution of economic thoughts has witnessed enormous variations, from the foundational concepts of the Classical School to the emergence of Neo-classical economics and the extra latest introduction of Behavioral Economics. Each school of thought has contributed precious perspectives and tools to the knowledge of economic behavior and marketplace phenomena. The Classical School, heralded by Adam Smith and David Ricardo, posited that value is derived from labor and that markets acquire equilibrium. Neo-classical economists later challenged this, emphasizing subjective value and marginal utility while introducing several key assumptions about marketplace behavior. Behavioural Economics emerged as a reaction to these assumptions, arguing that people often behave irrationally, opposite to the “rational maximiser” speculation. However, the latest prominence of Behavioral Economics has been met with criticisms, wondering about its validity and application for policy-making.

Evolution of Neo-classical Theory from the Classical School of Thought

The Classical School of Economics originated in the 18th century and was marked by Adam Smith and David Ricardo. They recommended that the value of goods was derived from the labor used to produce them and that economies could naturally attain a state of equilibrium through the “invisible hand” of self-interest and competition (James et al., 2022).

The Marginal Revolution in the late nineteenth century signaled the sunrise of Neo-classical economics. This school of thought extended Classical Economics using introducing the idea of marginalism, emphasizing the utility of the closing unit fed on (Stilwell, 2019). The shift from the labor principle of a value to a subjective value becomes essential in this modification.

Assumptions of the Neo-classical School

The Neo-classical school makes several key assumptions. Firstly, it assumes rationality, suggesting that individuals decide to maximize their utility. Secondly, it assumes marketplace equilibrium, in which supply equals demand. Thirdly, it assumes a ceteris paribus situation – all different elements being equal – enabling the isolation and evaluation of awesome elements in the financial system (Fetter, 2019).

Evolution of Behavioral Economics

Behavioral Economics, an exceptionally current area, challenges the Neo-classical school’s core assumptions. It became inspired by using mental insights into human behavior, offering that people regularly act irrationally, contrary to the rational maximizer portrayed by Neo-classical economics. Thinkers like Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky were instrumental in its improvement (Stilwell, 2019).

Behavioral Economics and its Contributions

Behavioral economics has contributed considerably to the knowledge of financial phenomena that Neo-classical economics struggled to explain, together with the endowment impact, the anchoring impact, irrational exuberance, and the prospect theory (James et al., 2022).

Endowment Effect: This idea indicates that humans value a good or service more once they own it than once they no longer do, contradicting the Neo-classical assumption of rationality. Anchoring Effect: This precept proposes that people rely too heavily on initial statistics (the “anchor”) while making selections. This challenges the Neo-classical assumption of ideal facts and rational decision-making. Irrational Exuberance: This term, coined by Robert Shiller, describes excessive speculative behavior in economic markets. It contradicts the Neo-classical view of markets always being efficient and equilibrium-orientated. Prospect Theory: Developed by Kahneman and Tversky, this theory posits that humans make choices based on potential losses and profits rather than results and cost losses more than similar gains. This again demands situations with the Neo-classical assumption of rationality.

Criticisms of Behavioral Economics

The area of behavioral economics, even though famous and insightful in many respects, has been criticized for its usefulness and validity. Behavioral economics combines insights from psychology and economics to explore human decision-making and has been lauded for its nuanced understanding of human behavior. However, some researchers argue that its prominence may detract from essential economics, ideas that are often more challenging for the general public to comprehend (Sumner, 2018).

Scott Sumner (2018) articulates a viewpoint that the central ideas of classical economics, even though counterintuitive to maximum humans, are more important for knowledge of economic structures. Sumner indicates that behavioral economics, at the same time as extra accessible, regularly reinforces ideals that the general public already holds instead of challenging them with the much less intuitive foundational principles of classical economics.

Further criticisms of behavioral economics query its practical utility for policy-making. Sumner (2018) argues that no matter the claims of its usefulness to policymakers, complicated economic troubles, just like the 2008 crisis, might be better defined and tackled through conventional economics. In this view, the particular contribution of economists lies no longer in reinforcing behavioral theories but in coaching foundational financial ideas often met with skepticism.

The validity of the central findings of behavioral economics has also come under scrutiny. Jason Hreha (2023) suggests that behavioral economics is “dead” despite its persevering utility and research. He points to replication disasters in key behavioral economics findings, which include loss aversion, as evidence of its decline. According to Hreha (2023), loss aversion, a concept crucial to behavioral economics, holds best for sizeable losses, contrary to its common, widely widespread application in the literature. He additionally criticizes the efficacy of behavioral economics interventions, suggesting that they regularly prove weak in practice.

In a fair greater scathing critique, Hreha (2023) cites a 2018 paper accusing the founders of behavioral economics, Kahneman and Tversky, of “systematic misrepresentation” to favor their theories. This accusation increases doubts about the integrity of behavioral economics, casting a shadow over its foundational theories and concepts.


In conclusion, from its origins within the Classical School to the marginal revolution of Neo-classical economics and sooner or later to the nuanced insights of Behavioral Economics, the evolution of financial notions reflects our deepening expertise in human behavior and market dynamics. Each school of thought has been instrumental in shaping our method of economic phenomena, imparting clear views and gear for analysis. While Behavioral Economics has provided a rich knowledge of individual decision-making that challenges the middle assumptions of Neo-classical economics, criticisms have emerged thinking of its practical application, the integrity of its core findings, and its ability to detract from vital economic standards. Nonetheless, the controversy between traditional economic assumptions and behavioral economic insights continues to complement the discipline, reminding us of economic behavior’s complexity and multi-faceted nature.


Fetter, F. A. (2019). The principles of economics, with applications to practical problems. Good Press.

Hreha, J. (2023, February 6). The death of behavioral economics. Jason Hreha.

James, G. M., Radchenko, P., & Rava, B. (2022). Irrational exuberance: Correcting bias in probability estimates. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 117(537), 455-468.

Scott Sumner. (2018, December 28). Let’s not emphasize behavioral economics. Econlib.

Stilwell, F. (2019). From economics to political economy: Contradictions, challenge, and change. American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 78(1), 35-62.


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