There is a misunderstanding about the meaning of behaviorism in recent discussions on the history of economics and psychology. This essay explores that “behaviorist myth” by highlighting the role of “control” as defined by behaviorists and contrasting their views against those of economists. It then uses “control as a viewpoint” from which to study the history of the two disciplines. It reveals why behaviorism did not meet consumer demand theory during the “ordinalist / revealed preferences revolution” of the 1930s (i.e., the behaviorist myth), despite common methodological references to Percy Bridgman's operationalism. Applying this new viewpoint, this essay also joins the general topic of this volume by exploring early American institutionalism and recent behavioral economics as specific instances in which psychology and economics meet (or do not).
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José Edwards; Behaviorism and Control in the History of Economics and Psychology. History of Political Economy 1 December 2016; 48 (suppl_1): 170–197. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182702-3619262
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