The Psychology of Human Action
The proper way to study human action is to break it down into the following categories
- History-What we did
- Economics-What we do
- Psychology-Why we do
- Ethics-What we ought to do
This essay is a discussion of the psychology of human action from a Misesian perspective meaning we start our analysis at the level of the individual. Psychology, in this sense, is an attempt to understand the primary considerations that humans use to make the constant stream of decisions that comprise each day. In his masterpiece book “Human Action” Mises develops the field of praxeology, the method of studying society by focusing on the individual and at the decision point for any individual action taken. The approach is fruitful yielding the full body of the intellectual gem known as Austrian Economics. Praxeology is the science of human action; an approach to sociology that is much better than mainstream sociology which mimics the physical sciences in its approach. The conclusions made in Praxeology are built on logic rather than empirical observation. Mises called Praxeology the science of human action of which economics is its most developed branch. The Psychology of Human Action is the development of a new branch of praxeology that yields many insights into understanding modern politics.
Individuals have three main parameters by which they constrain their decisions: property, time, and social hierarchy. Social hierarchies apparently exist to reduce conflict among individuals as do property rights by allowing individuals to know who should defer to whom with regard to each other and physical objects. An individual’s decisions are delimited by these three dimensions, time (time preference), space (property), and social hierarchy. Social hierarchy exists in the minds of individuals so it is like the imaginary plane in the field of mathematics.. We have the real dimensions of time and space along with the dimension of social hierarchy or status. These control the majority of human behavior in the quest for survival and reproduction.
Time preference and social hierarchy are fundamental to understanding the “why” of human action. Putting social hierarchy front and center is especially useful in political science, since politics is the pursuit of social status, as well because it explains why people seem to fall into two different political groups, the left and the right. This theory explains a long list of behaviors enga
Article from LewRockwell