Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Economists See the Darndest Things, or An Aspie Utility Function

Walter Nicholson, an eminent Economics professor at Amherst College, has written Intermediate Microeconomics and Its Application, a popular textbook. (His specialty is applied microeconomics - basically how economic theory can be used to explain and predict how particular individuals, firms, etc. will act.)

On page 114 (Fifth Edition, 1990), Professor Nicholson gives this scenario to start off one of his review questions:

David N. gets $3 per month as an allowance to spend any way he pleases. Since he only likes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, he spends the entire amount on peanut butter (at $0.05 per ounce) and jelly (at $0.10 per ounce). Bread is provided free of charge by a concerned neighbor. David is a particular eater and makes his sandwiches with exactly 1 oz. of jelly and 2 oz. of peanut butter. He is set in his ways and will never change these proportions.

Am I the only one who suspects that Professor Nicholson may have known an Aspie or autist?

1 comment:

mama edge said...

I assumed Professor Nicholson WAS an Aspie or autist.

My son Rocky was just saying that one of his favorite things about himself is that he's so much more logical and predictable than most people. I think he'd be tickled by the idea that his behavior could be reflected by a clean and simple formula, while other people (yes, he'd be pointing right at me) would be next-to-impossible to quantify, with lots of complicated theoretical functions and probabilistic algorithms.

Fun stuff, Jeff!