Katona, George (1901–1981)
Katona developed the theory and substance of psychological economics, with particular attention to the effects of national events on the confidence, expectations, plans and ultimately behaviour of masses of individuals. From a background in Gestalt psychology, he noted that there can be major restructuring of the way people interpret their world and its future, leading to sometimes dramatic shifts in behaviour. And he had a firm belief in people’s capacity to learn and to adjust their goals, so that behaviour was more than a simple response to stimuli. Like most great ideas, these were at the same time simple and profound, obvious (that attitudes would affect behaviour) but not accepted, particularly by economists who preferred to keep attitudes and expectations endogenous so they need not be measured or dealt with directly.