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Homo Atomicus: An actor worth psychologizing? The problems of applying behavioral economics

Harrington, Anne ORCID: and Downer, John 2019. Homo Atomicus: An actor worth psychologizing? The problems of applying behavioral economics. Harrington, Anne L. and Knopf, Jeffrey W., eds. Behavioral Economics and Nuclear Weapons, Studies in Security and International Affairs, Atlanta: University of Georgia Press,

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The idea of the perfectly rational, utility-maximizing actor has done a lot of work for social scientists over the years. This is most visible in economics, where homo economicus has served as the hypothetical protagonist of innumerable models, theories, and formulae. Less visible but perhaps equally significant, however, has been the unnamed rational actor at the heart of modern nuclear strategy, invoked in the game-theoretic stratagems of Schelling and the many influential theorists and policymakers who followed in his wake. Let us call this actor homo atomicus. Homo atomicus enjoys considerable authority in the nuclear sphere, where rational actor models are still used to guide most strategy deliberations. This is perhaps surprising, however, since the authority of homo economicus has lately begun to wane — in no small part due to the 2008 financial crisis, which dramatically undermined the rational actor models on which oversight of global financial system had been premised.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Uncontrolled Keywords: nuclear weapons; deterrence; nonproliferation; behavioral economics
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
ISBN: 9780820355634
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 31 January 2019
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2022 13:09

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