A Complete Theory of Human Behavior

Andrew W. Lo
MIT Sloan School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
September 30, 2010

American Economic Association, Ten Years and Beyond: Economists Answer NSF’s Call for Long-Term Research Agendas


I propose the following grand challenge question for SBE 2020: can we develop a complete theory of human behavior that is predictive in all contexts? The motivation for this question is the fact that the different disciplines within SBE do have a common subject: Homo sapiens. Therefore, psychological, sociological, neuroscientific, and economic implications of human behavior should be mutually consistent. When they contradict each other – as they have in the context of financial decisions – this signals important learning opportunities. By confronting and attempting to reconcile inconsistencies across disciplines, we develop a more complete understanding of human behavior than any single discipline can provide. The National Science Foundation can foster this process of “consilience” in at least four ways: (1) issuing RFPs around aspects of human behavior, not around disciplines; (2) holding annual conferences where PI’s across NSF directorates present their latest research and their most challenging open questions; (3) organizing “summer camps” for NSF graduate fellowship recipients at the start of their graduate careers, where they are exposed to a broad array of research through introductory lectures by NSF PI’s; and (4) broadening the NSF grant review process to include referees from multiple disciplines.

Source: SSRN

Category: Think Tank

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

One Response to “Andrew Lo: A Complete Theory of Human Behavior”

  1. davossherman@gmail.com says:

    Look: NBER was 9 months late calling the Great Recession.

    It is too effing stupid to realize how cooked GDP is (imputations, Hedonics, totally bogus deflator…), any idiot with a 3rd grade education knows that actual unemployment is 22% and that we are still in the soup, and that this is a depression.

    Why anyone would want to read any of NBERs drivel defies commons sense.

    Second to the Fed I can’t think of a larger group of clueless economic wonders.