I Choose for Myself, Therefore I Am

The Contours of Existentialist Behavioral Economics


  • Malte Dold Pomona College, United States
  • Alexa Stanton Pomona College, United States




Behavioral economics and existentialism both present informative perspectives on human choice. We argue in this article that the dialogue between the two approaches can enrich the current debate about the normative implications of behavioral economics. While behavioral economics suggests that our capacity to choose is constrained by cognitive biases and environmental influences, existentialism emphasizes that we can (and should) treat ourselves as free and ‘becoming’ beings in spite of the many constraints we face. Acknowledging these two perspectives in the form of a theoretical synthesis—which we propose to call existentialist behavioral economics—provides us with reasons why we should protect our choices ‘as our own’ and how doing so may be more difficult than we anticipate. It also provides a framework to analyze the threat of identity-shaping social and technological developments, such as preference-altering nudges and artificially intelligent prediction algorithms.

Author Biographies

Malte Dold, Pomona College, United States

Malte Dold is an Assistant Professor in the Economics Department at Pomona College in California. Previously, he spent two years as a post­doctoral fellow at New York University. He holds a master’s degree in Philosophy and Economics from the University of Bayreuth, and received his PhD in Economics from the University of Freiburg. His research lies at the intersection of behavioral economics, philosophy of economics, and history of economic thought.

Alexa Stanton, Pomona College, United States

Alexa Stanton graduated from Pomona College magna cum laude in 2020, with a major in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE), and a minor in Computer Science. In her thesis, Alexa examined the links between existentialism and behavioral economics, and how these links can inform perspectives on artificially intelligent prediction algorithms. She now works as a consultant at Transom Consulting Group.




How to Cite

Dold, M., & Stanton, A. . (2021). I Choose for Myself, Therefore I Am: The Contours of Existentialist Behavioral Economics. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, 14(1), 1–29. https://doi.org/10.23941/ejpe.v14i1.470