The Mind of the Market

January 14, 2008

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Dr. Michael Shermer

Michael Shermer explains how evolution shaped the modern economy-and why people are so irrational about money. How did we make the leap from ancient hunter-gatherers to modern consumers and traders? Why do people get so emotional and irrational about bottom-line financial and business decisions? Is the capitalist marketplace a sort of Darwinian organism, evolved through natural selection as the fittest way to satisfy our needs?

In this eye-opening exploration, author and psychologist Michael Shermer uncovers the evolutionary roots of our economic behavior. Drawing on the new field of neuroeconomics, Shermer investigates what brain scans reveal about bargaining, snap purchases, and establishing trust in business. He scrutinizes experiments in behavioral economics to understand why people hang on to losing stocks, why negotiations disintegrate into tit-for-tat disputes, and why money does not make us happy. He brings together astonishing findings from psychology, biology, and other sciences to describe how our tribal ancestry makes us suckers for brands, why researchers believe cooperation unleashes biochemicals similar to those released during sex, why free trade promises to build alliances between nations, and how even capuchin monkeys get indignant if they don't get a fair reward for their work.

Dr. Michael Shermer received his B.A. in psychology from Pepperdine University, M.A. in experimental psychology from California State University, Fullerton, and his Ph.D. in the history of science from Claremont Graduate University (1991). He was a college professor for 20 years (1979–1998), teaching psychology, evolution, and the history of science at Occidental College (1989–1998), California State University Los Angeles, and Glendale College. Shermer was the co-host and co-producer of the 13-hour Family Channel television series, Exploring the Unknown.

Co-Sponsored with the Chicago Society. (c) 2008 - Unversity of Chicago.  The World Beyond the Headlines series is a collaborative project of the Center for International Studies, the International House Global Voices Program, the Seminary Co-op Bookstores and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Its aim is to bring scholars and journalists together to consider major international issues and how they are covered in the media.

 

Recorded Monday, January 14, 2008 at International House.