Latest Issue

Help me to help myself

Economists have come to understand that we don't always act in our own interests. Now politicians are starting to take note

By Tom Nuttall   July 2008

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H Thaler & Cass R Sunstein (Yale, £17.99)

To the contemporary list of endangered species one should add Homo economicus, or “economic man,” who for 200 years dazzled economics students with his feats of unbounded rationality and supreme self-control. Homo economicus is an abstraction used by economists in the classical tradition to predict human economic behaviour. He is a “rational maximiser,” in that in any given set of conditions, he will successfully pursue his own arbitrary goals to the furthest degree possible, unfettered by indecision, memory loss or lack of…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect