The Image of Humans



The following chapter analyzes human behavior in the economy. What motivates people, what goals do they pursue and what makes them happy? We need the insights gained to explain unethical behavior and to move people to ethical behavior.

There are many people who selflessly do good deeds and feel better for doing so, not worse. This gives us a selfless motivation that contradicts the theory of utility maximization, or the concept of homo economicus. The fact that selfless, or even self-sacrificing, acts exists shows that such an ethic is not unrealistic. Volunteer work and individuals like Mother Theresa are clear examples. This behavior can be explained by a more general theory of maximizing happiness, which is behind theories like the Happiness Theory from Bentham and Mill. Many people are generally good, which is to say they have an ethical disposition.


Homo Economicus Happiness Theory Selfless Motives Ultimatum Game Strong Reciprocity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Asch, S. E. (1951). Effects of group pressure upon the modification and distortion of judgments. In H. Guetzkow (Ed.), Groups, leadership and men; research in human relations (pp. 177–190). Oxford: Carnegie Press.Google Scholar
  2. Axelrod, R. (1987). Die Evolution der Kooperation. Munich: Oldenbourg.Google Scholar
  3. Bennis, W. G., & O’Toole, J. (2005, May). How business schools lost their way. Harvard Business Review, 83, 1–9.
  4. Bentham, J. (1789). Introduction to the principles of morals and Legislation (1780, published 1789). In J. H. Burns, & H. L. A. Hart (Eds.), The collected works of Jeremy Bentham (2nd. ed.). Oxford, 1996.Google Scholar
  5. Brosnan, S. F., & de Waal, F. B. M. (2003). Monkeys reject unequal pay. Nature, 425(September 18th), 297–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brosnan, S. F., & de Waal, F. B. M. (2014). Evolution of responses to (un) fairness. Science, 346(6207). 1,251,776, 314–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Conrad, C. A. (2005). Handbuch asset management. In R. Eller et al. (Hrsg.), Kapitalallokation in der Irrational Exuberance – Erkenntnisse aus Theorie und Praxis. Stuttgart: Schäffer-Poeschel.Google Scholar
  8. Conrad, C. A. (2010). Morality and economic crisis – Enron, subprime & co. Hamburg: Disserta Verlag.Google Scholar
  9. Conrad, C. A. (2015). Incentives, risk and compensation schemes: Experimental evidence on the importance of risk adequate compensation. Applied Economics and Finance, 2(2), 50–55.Google Scholar
  10. Dahrendorf, R. (2009, July 12). Die verlorene Ehre des Kaufmanns. Tagesspiegel.
  11. Dolivo, V., & Taborsky, M. (2015). Norway rats reciprocate help according to the quality of help they received. Biology Letters, 11, 20140959. Scholar
  12. Erlei, M., Leschke, M., & Sauerland, D. (1999). Neue Institutionenökonomik. Stuttgart: Schäffer-Poeschel Verlag.Google Scholar
  13. Eshghi, P., Arofzad, S., & Hosaini, T. A. (2013). Relationship between social intelligence with effective influence among physical education expertise in Isfahan Education Organizations. World Applied Science Journal, 28(12), 2177–2181.Google Scholar
  14. Falk, A. (2003). Homo oeconomicus versus Homo recipocans: Ansätze für ein neues Wirtschaftspolitisches Weltbild? Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, 4, 141–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fehr, G., & Fischbacher, U. (2001). Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment. Economics Letters, 71, 397–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fehr, E., & Fischbacher, U. (2003). The nature of human altruism. Nature, 425(23), 785–791.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Föhr, S., & Lenz, H. (1992). Unternehmenskultur und ökonomische Theorie. In W. H. Staehle & P. Conrad (Eds.), Managementforschung (pp. 111–162). Berlin: De Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Frank, R. H. (1988). Passion within reason. The strategic role of the emotions. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  19. Frank, R. H. (2004). What price the moral high ground? Princeton University Press: Princeton.Google Scholar
  20. Franz, S. (2004). Grundlagen des ökonomischen Ansatzes: Das Erklärungskonzept des Homo Oeconomicus. Working paper der Universität Potsdam. 2004–02.
  21. Gardner, H., Kornhaber, M. L., Wake W. K. (1996). Intelligence. Multiple Perspectives. San Diego.Google Scholar
  22. Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind. The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  23. Gardner, H. (1999). Intelligence reframed. Multiple intelligences for the 21st century perseus. New York: Books Group.Google Scholar
  24. Gardner, H., & Moran, S. (2006). The science of multiple intelligences theory: A response to Lynn waterhouse. Educational Psychologist, 41(4), 227–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gneezy, U. (2005). Deception: The role of consequences. American Economic Review., 95(1), 384–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Göbel, E. (2010). Unternehmensethik. Stuttgart: Lucius & Lucius.Google Scholar
  27. Grimm Brothers. (1819). Hans in luck.
  28. Greene, J. D., Nystrom, L. E., Engell, A. D., & Darley, J. M. (2004). The neural bases of cognitive conflict and control in moral judgment. Neuron, 44, 389–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gürerk, Ö. I., & Rockenbach, B. (2006). The competitive advantage of sanctioning institutions. Science, 312(April), 108–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Güth, W., Schmittberger, R., & Schwarze, B. (1982). An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 3(4), 367–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Haidt, J., Koller, S., & Dias, M. (1993). Affect, culture, and morality, or is it wrong to eat your dog? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 613–628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hausmann, D. M., & McPherson, M. (2006). Economic analysis, moral philosophy, and public policy (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Edition.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Höffe, O. (1992). Einleitung. In O. Höffe (Ed.), Einführung in die utilitaristische Ethik, Klassische und zeitgenössische Texte (pp. 7–54). Stuttgart: Edition.Google Scholar
  34. Holzmann, R. (2015). Wirtschaftsethik. Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hornstein, H. A., Fisch, E., & Holmes, M. (1968). Influence of a model’s feeling about his behavior and his relevance as a comparison other on observers’ helping behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 10(3), 222–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hume, D. (1739). A treatise of human nature. Reprinted in Penguin Classics Penguin, London, 1985.Google Scholar
  37. Jonas, K., Stroebe, W., & Hewstone, M. (2007). Sozialpsychologie, Eine Einführung (5th ed.). Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar
  38. Kraft, U. (2006, March 23). Der Mensch – das emotionale Wesen. Handelsblatt.
  39. Lück, H. E., & Manz, W. (1973). Die Technik der verlorenen Briefe – Ein neues Instrument verhaltensbezogener Einstellungsmessung? Zeitschrift für Soziologie, 2(4), 352–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Luhmann, N. (2000). Vertrauen: Ein Mechanismus der Reduktion sozialer Komplexität. Stuttgart: Lucius & Lucius.Google Scholar
  41. Mandeville, B. de. (1732). The fable of the bees; or, private vices, public benefits. London 1714 (first edition 1714).Google Scholar
  42. Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Milgrom, P., & Roberts, J. (1992). Economics, organization & management. Upper Saddle River: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  44. Mill, J. S. (1844). Essays on some unsettled questions of political economy. London. 25 Apr 2015.
  45. Mill, J. S. (1863). Utilitarism. In J. S. Mill (2010) (Ed.), The basic writings of John Stuart Mill: On liberty, the subjection of women and utilitarianism. New York: Classic Books.Google Scholar
  46. Mill, J. S. (1992). Utilitarismus. In O. Höffe (Ed.), Einführung in die utilitaristische Ethik, Klassische und zeitgenössische Texte (pp. 84–97). Tübingen: Edition.Google Scholar
  47. Nass, E. (2003). Der Mensch als Ziel der Wirtschaftsethik: eine finalethische Positionierung im Spannungsfeld zwischen Ethik und Ökonomie. Paderborn: Schöningh.Google Scholar
  48. Noll, B. (2002). Wirtschafts- und Unternehmensethik in der Marktwirtschaft. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer.Google Scholar
  49. Perry, S. (2003). Social conventions in wild white-faced Capuchin monkeys: Evidence for traditions in a neotropical primate. Current Anthropology, 44(2), 241–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Rapoport, A., & Chammah, A. M. (1970). Prisoner’s Dilemma – A study in conflict and cooperation (2nd ed.). University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbor.Google Scholar
  51. Roth, A. E., Prasnikar, V., Okuno-Fujiwara, M., & Zamir, S. (1991). Bargaining and market behavior in Jerusalem, Ljubljana, Pittsburgh, and Tokyo: An experimental study. American Economic Review, 81(5), 1068–1095.Google Scholar
  52. Rutte, C., & Taborsky, M. (2007). Generalized reciprocity in rats. PLoS Biology, 5(7), 1421–1425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sanfey, A., et al. (2002). The neutral basis of economic decision-making in the ultimatum game. Science, 300, 1755–1758.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Schopenhauer, A. (1840). Preisschrift über die Grundlage der Moral. Hamburg: Meiner.Google Scholar
  55. Schlesinger, C. (2007). Abschied vom IQ. Die Wirtschaftwoche, 52, 124–130.Google Scholar
  56. Schwaninger, M. (2008). Anatol Rapoport (May 22, 1911–January 20, 2007). Pioneer of systems theory and peace research, mathematician, philosopher and pianist. Wiley Online Library Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 24(6), 655–658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Smith, A. (1759). The theory of the moral sentiments. Edinburgh.Google Scholar
  58. Smith, A. (1776). An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations. Edinburgh.
  59. Starbatty, J. (1999). Das Menschenbild in den Wirtschaftswissenschaften. Tübinger Diskussionsbeiträge der Wirtschaftswissenschaftlichen Fakultät, 176.
  60. Steinmann, H., & Löhr, A. (1994). Grundlagen der Unternehmensethik (2nd ed.). Stuttgart: Schäffer-Poeschel Verlag.Google Scholar
  61. Sutter, M. (2009). Deception through telling the truth?! Experimental evidence from individuals and teams. The Economic Journal, 119(534), 47–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. von Hayek, F. A. (1971). Die Verfassung der Freiheit. Tübingen: Mohr (Siebeck).Google Scholar
  63. von Hayek, F. A. (1976). Law, legislation and liberty, the mirage of social justice (Vol. 2). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  64. von Hayek F.A. (1979). Law, legislation and liberty, the political order of free people (Bd. 3). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  65. Weber, M. (1922). Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, Grundriss der verstehenden Soziologie. Edition. Tübingen.Google Scholar
  66. Wiswede, G. (1985). Soziologie (1. Aufl). Landsberg am Lech: Verlag Moderne Industrie AG.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Applied ScienceHochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft des SaarlandesSaarbrückenGermany

Personalised recommendations