Extraordinary new economics paper by Edward Glaeser. Abstract:
Prospect theory, loss aversion, mental accounts, hyperbolic discounting, cues, and the endowment effect can all be seen as examples of situationalism— the view that people isolate decisions and overweight immediate aspects of the situation relative to longer term concerns. But outside of the laboratory, emotionally-powerful situational factors— frames, social influence, mental accounts— are almost always endogenous and often the result of self-interested entrepreneurs. As such, laboratory work and, indeed, psychology more generally, gives us little guidance as to market outcomes. Economics provides a stronger basis for understanding the supply of emotionally-relevant situational variables. Paradoxically, the rise of situationalism actually increases the relative importance of economics.
He also finds that situationalism should increase our preference for the market vis a vis government.