Happiness and Relational Goods conference

Happiness and Relational Goods: Well-being & Interp. Relat. in the Econ. Sphere
in Venice,Italy
from 11. June 2009 to 13. June 2009
Deadline for paper submissions: 09. February 2009
JEL classification(s): A, B, D, H, I, J, N, O, R, Z
Further information at: http://heirs.unimib.googlepages.com/happiness

George Loewenstein – The economist as therapist – video lecture

I have just found a video lecture by George Loewenstein titled: The Economist as a therapist: Behavioral economics and “light paternalism”. The lecture was given during the 2007 IAREP conference.

See also on SSRN the working paper The Economist as Therapist: Methodological Ramifications of ‘Light’ Paternalism by  George Loewenstein and Emily Celia Haisley February 28, 2007.

Adapting Pedagogical Innovations Across Disciplines

Scott Simkins, Mark Maier, Bill Goffe and Steve Greenlaw announce on the  tch-econ  list:

Pre-ASSA Roundtable Discussion/Workshop
Adapting Pedagogical Innovations Across Disciplines

At this year’s ASSA meeting in San Francisco (Januray 3-5,2009) we will be hosting a pre-meeting Roundtable Discussion/Workshop exploring pedagogical innovations developed in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines and their adaptability in economics.

In particular, we will focus on pedagogical innovations developed from physics education research such as context-rich problems, just-in-time teaching, interactive lecture demonstrations, and concept tests/peer instruction.

Our objectives for this Roundtable Discussion/Workshop are to:

(1) introduce economists to pedagogical and assessment-related innovations from other disciplines and to encourage more economists to experiment with these techniques in their own classes;

(2) encourage more economists to initiate research exploring the adaptability of these innovations in economics (we believe that there is significant potential in this area, especially with respect to the NSF); and (

3) develop a network of economists interested in interdisciplinary pedagogical connections.

To meet these objectives we plan to share insights from recent research on these topics, develop working groups interested in pursuing funded research opportunities, introduce a significant new NSF-funded Economics Pedagogic Portal project, and promote an economics pedagogy blog focused on
interdisciplinary pedagogy research and teaching innovations.

The ASSA pre-meeting Roundtable Discussion/Workshop will take place at the San Francisco Hilton on Friday, January 2, 2009, from 3:00-5:00 pm in Room Mason A.   ASSA sessions begin the morning of January 3.  We scheduled this meeting so even those from the east coast attending the ASSA meeting should be able to attend.  We hope to have some light refreshments available.

If you can’t attend but are interested in this initiative, please contact
Scott Simkins (simkinss@ncat.edu) or Mark Maier (mmaier@glendale.edu).

We hope that you will join us for this initial meeting.  If you plan to joinus, please register at:

[Click on Academy for Teaching and Learning, then click on “Sign Up” for the relevant event and complete the registration information.  You will receive a confirmation of your registration and a reminder one day before the event.]


Below are links to some useful background readings related to our meeting.

Why Not Try a Scientific Approach to Science Education?
By Carl Wieman
Change, September/October 2007 Volume 39, Number 5


In this article, Carl Wieman, Nobel-prize-winning physicist, discusses how using the practices of science ■ gathering objective data, building on demonstrated effectiveness, and fully utilizing modern technology ■ can significantly increase students’ learning.  Our interest is in how these principles can be applied to economic education research and the teaching of  economics.

See also:


Learning from Physics Education Research: Lessons for Economics Education
By Scott P. Simkins and Mark H. Maier
June 27, 2008

Download from one of the following repositories:

We believe that economists have much to learn from educational research practices and related pedagogical innovations in other disciplines, in particular physics education. In this paper we identify three key features of physics education research that distinguish it from economics education
research – (1) the intentional grounding of physics education research in learning science principles, (2) a shared conceptual research framework focused on how students learn physics concepts, and (3) a cumulative process of knowledge-building in the discipline – and describe their influence on new teaching pedagogies, instructional activities, and curricular design in physics education. In addition, we highlight four specific examples of successful pedagogical innovations drawn from physics
education – context-rich problems, concept tests, just-in-time teaching, and interactive lecture demonstrations – and illustrate how these practices can be adapted for economic education.


Developing an Economics Pedagogic Portal (grant project)
National Science Foundation
Award Number: DUE 0817382 (2008-2011)
Investigators: Scott Simkins, Mark Maier, KimMarie McGoldrick, Cathryn

Abstract available at:


We look forward to seeing many of you in San Francisco.

Scott Simkins
Mark Maier
Bill Goffe
Steve Greenlaw”

Does thinking of money makes us less helpful and more hard-working

So it seems, at least according to the recently published article by Kathleen Vohs, Nicole L. Mead, and Miranda R. Goode (2008) Merely Activating the Concept of Money Changes Personal and Interpersonal Behavior , Current Directions in Psychological Science , Volume 17 Issue 3, Pages 208 – 212).

Here is the abstract:

Money plays a significant role in people’s lives, and yet little experimental attention has been given to the psychological underpinnings of money. We systematically varied whether and to what extent the concept of money was activated in participants’ minds using methods that minimized participants’ conscious awareness of the money cues. On the one hand, participants reminded of money were less helpful than were participants not reminded of money, and they also preferred solitary activities and less physical intimacy. On the other hand, reminders of money prompted participants to work harder on challenging tasks and led to desires to take on more work as compared to participants not reminded of money. In short, even subtle reminders of money elicit big changes in human behavior.”

The concept of money was activated in the participants via four different manipulations. The first had participants play monopoly and being given at the end of the game different amounts of money “for later” before moving to another task. The second manipulation asked participants to imagine life with either abundant or limited finances. In the third manipulation participants had to organize phrases that were or were not related to money. The fourth and last manipulation made participants sit near images of cash or neutral images. The authors found that all of these manipulations had similar effects.

The authors underline that the emotional states reported by participants did not seem to be affected by whether they were reminded of money or not. This suggests that the results are unlikely to depend on emotional impacts of money on making participants less trustful, more anxious, or prideful. The authors believe that the explanation does not lie in money making people more selfish or greedy. In fact, exposure to money clues did not make participants more likely to ask for help when given a tough assignment nor more likely to reject more work than was necessary.

The authors conclude:

We are eager to explore the idea that money leads to a perspective on the world that emphasizes inputs and outputs with an expectation of equity (cf. Fiske, 1991)—a perspective that would emphasize performance and, consequently, may harm interpersonal sensitivity.” (p. 211).

See also the earlier article “The Psychological Consequences of Money,” Kathleen D. Vohs, Nicole Mead, and Miranda Goode, Science (2006). Nov. 17, 2006.

Pointer by Greg Mankiw and comment by Peter Singer.

Workshop for teaching assistants

I am organizing a three-hour workshop for teaching assistants. The workshop is meant to be their first introduction to teaching. If anyone has organized anything similar, I would love to exchange ideas. Below is a list of links for the workshops. If anyone has comments, suggestions, etc. they are very welcome!

Useful links – this list is compiled having in mind parsimony assuming that TAs will have little time and find a short list more useful.

I am not aware of any other handbooks for teaching economics, that are freely available on the internet. There are however several handbooks for teaching assistants.

Also excellent is the site

and the

Discussion lists

  • Tch-econ discussion list From the description of the discussion list: “This is a place to discuss ideas related to the teaching of economics. We particularly concentrate on undergraduate university-level teaching, but do occasionally foray into graduate or secondary-school teaching. This is also a place to make contacts and form collaborative teams to work on projects related to the scholarship of teaching and to multi-campus collaborative efforts. “

Peer-reviewed journals on economic education