Soziale Ungleichheit und Soziale Strukturen




Behavior versus Action in Psychology, Economics and Sociology

15300 - Seminar

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Gill

Di. 10-12 Uhr c.t., Konradstr. 6, 208
Beginn: 18.10.2016   Ende: 07.02.2017

Humans, not only in the realm of the social sciences but already in their everyday understanding, conceive their own and other people's behavior as "rational action" in the sense that it is "conscious" and "calculated". But our brains are not able to consciously control all the divers, complex, fast and contextual practices that govern us and our lives and which have evolved within the social and physical structures to which we are adap­ted. Only in reflexive situations (when we are irritated in our normal routines or take philosophical attitude towards our­selves) we can catch and "objectify" some of the moments of these practices, thus become aware of them and make "rational decisions": "Yes, I should study more and be more diligent!" But those rational decisions are often not implemented, since they are not comfortable with our other practices in which the presently focused and objectified practice is molded.

In the course, we will try to get an overview over the theories and methods which have developed in the social sciences – namely psychology of heuristics, behavioral economics and sociology of practice (Giddens, Bourdieu) – to come to a more realistic understanding of human behavior. Seen from the now emerging perspective, large parts of the human mind are not so easy to understand, since they are alien to our spontaneous introspection and much less sophisticated than usually suppo­sed. Or to put it in other words: They are intelligent in an adap­tive sense, exactly since they are quite "dull" in an everyday understanding – they need not so large brain capacities. By understanding and accepting these human and animal heu­ristics which are at work in the web of collective practices, we can – hopefully – learn to become less presumptuous and more successful in the governance of our reflexive minds over our individual and collective fate.


  • Gigerenzer, G. (2007). Gut feelings: The intelligence of the unconscious. Penguin.


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