What are the most important characteristics of humans, the qualities that distinguish us from every other species on the planet? On the one hand, it is the ability to plan for the long term and postpone short-term benefits for distant goals. And on the other hand, it is the ability to take on the perspective of others and to understand them.
So, why is a change of perspective so important? ‘We need this skill equally in our private and professional lives,’ says Ernst Fehr, Director of the Institute of Economics at the University of Zurich. We need it, for example, when buying presents for our children or choosing what to have for dinner. Entrepreneurs need to ask themselves what new needs their customers are developing or what their counterpart at the negotiating table thinks.
But ‘perspective-taking’ also plays an important role in economic theory. ‘When you analyse an economic problem with game-theoretical methods, you have to decide what the world of the various decision-makers looks like. What interests do they have? And how are these interests perceived by the other actors?’ asks Fehr. The ability to take on the perspective of the other is one of the essential components of modern game theory.
Given the paramount importance of perspective-taking, the 9th Academy of Behavioural Economics, taking place on 4 May 2022, is therefore dedicated to The Power of Perspective-Taking: Tested Tools For a Post-Pandemic World. Watch the preview video with Ernst Fehr now!