Preference formation and economics

The origin of individual preferences is nowadays a central question in economics. I have been working on two questions:

1) Why are individual preferences so different across time, space and social class, and what is the economic impact of these differences? Why do some individuals have very short-termist preferences? And to what extent does this inter-individual variability explain differences in economic behavior in terms of investment in human capital (education, health, children) and in terms of innovation (exploration, risk taking)? Can psychological theories of inter-individual variability explain major historical changes such as the Industrial Revolution? How does this relate to endogenous growth theories?

2) Why do humans have preferencs for moral and fair interactions? Why are certain economic exchanges considered morally acceptable? What is the evolutionary logic of these moral evaluations? Why fairness? Why equality? And why, sometimes, inequality? How can we reconcile the existence of universal moral preferences with the variability of moral judgments?

1) The origin of inter-individual variability of preferences and their economic impact

Empirical papers:

Baumard, N., Huillery, E., Hyafil, A. and Safra, L. (2022) The cultural evolution of love in history, Nature Human Behavior (Supplementary material, supplementary review, data and code here)

Baumard, N. (2019) Psychological Origins of the Industrial Revolution, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Target article, Commentaries and Response, 1-63.

Baumard, N., Huillery, E. and Zabrocki, L. (in review) The Economic Origins of Ascetic Values : Evidence from Medieval Europe

Martin, M. & Baumard, N. (2020) The rise of prosociality in fiction preceded democratic revolutions in Early Modern Europe, PNAS

Safra, L., Chevallier, C., Grèzes, J., Baumard, N. (2020) Tracking the rise of trust in history using machine learning and paintings, Nature Communication

Lettinga, N., Jacquet, P. O., André, J. B., Baumard, N., & Chevallier, C. (2020). Environmental harshness is associated with lower investment in collective actions. PlosOne 15(7): e0236715.

Mell, H., Safra, L. Algan, Y, Baumard, N and Chevallier, C. (2018) Childhood Environmental Harshness Predicts Coordinated Health and Reproductive Strategies: A Cross-sectional Study Of A Nationally Representative (France) Sample`. Evolution and Human Behavior, 39(1), 1-8.

Theoretical papers:

Boon-Falleur, M., Baumard, N., & André, J. (in press). Risk-seeking or impatient? Disentangling variance and time in hazardous behaviors. Evolution and Human Behavior

Mell, H., Baumard, N., & André, J. B. (in press). Time is money. Waiting costs explain why selection favors steeper time discounting in deprived environments. Evolution and Human Behavior

2) The origin of moral preferences and their impact on cooperation

Starters (from the shortest to the longest)

Baumard, N. & Sheskin, M. (2014) Partner Choice and the Evolution of a Contractualist Morality, in Decety, J. & Wheatley, T., The Moral Brain, M.I.T. Press.

Baumard, N., André, J.B. et Sperber, D. (2013) A Mutualistic Theory of Morality: The Evolution of Fairness by Partner Choice, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Target article, 36 (1).

Baumard, N. (2016) The Origins of Fairness : How Evolution Explains our Human Nature, Oxford University Press, Oxford(translation of Comment nous sommes devenus moraux : Une histoire naturelle du bien et du mal, Odile Jacob, Paris, 2010)

For French speakers, Stéphane Debove has made a series of Youtube videos on the Biological Contract Theory.

Theoretical papers

Geoffroy, F., Baumard, N., André, JB., (2019) Why cooperation is not running away, PCI Evol. Biol. (review here)

Debove, S., Baumard, N. and André, J.-B. (2017) On the evolutionary origins of equity, PloS one, 12(9), e0184459

Debove, S., Baumard, N., & Andre, J. B. (2016). Models of the evolution of fairness in the ultimatum game: a review and classification. Evolution and Human Behavior.

Debove, S., Baumard, N. & André, J.B., (2015) Evolution of equal division among unequal partners, Evolution, 69: 561–569.

André, J.B. & Baumard, N. (2011) Social opportunities and the evolution of fairness, Journal of Theoretical Biology. 289:128–135.

André, J.B. & Baumard, N. (2011) The evolution of fairness in a biological market, Evolution, 65, 1.

Experimental papers

Sheskin, M., Chevallier, C., Kanovsky, M. Hulin, M., Ivanescu, A., Lenfesty, H., Regnier, D., Berniunas, R., Castelain, T., Sebesteny A., & Baumard, N. (2018). The needs of the many: Judging sacrifices for the group across cultures. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 18(1-2), 205-223

Sheskin, M. & Baumard, B. (2016) Switching Away from Utilitarianism: The Limited Role of Utility Calculations in Moral Judgment, PloS one, 11(8), e0160084.

Debove, S., André, J.B. & Baumard, N., (2015) Partner choice creates fairness in humans, Proc. R. Soc. B, 282(1808), 20150392