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[Thymology] is what a man knows about the way in which people value different conditions, about their wishes and desires and their plans to realize these wishes and desires. It is the knowledge of the social environment in which a man lives and acts or, with historians, of a foreign milieu about which he has learned by studying special sources.[2] Why one man chooses water and another man wine is a thymological (or, in traditional terminology, psychological) problem.


Thymology is a branch of history or, as Collingwood formulated it, it belongs in 'the sphere of history.' It deals with the mental activities of men that determine their actions. It deals with the mental processes that result in a definite kind of behavior, with the reactions of the mind to the conditions of the individual's environment. It deals with something invisible and intangible that cannot be perceived by the methods of the natural sciences. But the natural sciences must admit that this factor must be considered as real also from their point of view, as it is a link in a chain of events that result in changes in the sphere the description of which they consider as the specific field of their studies.[4]

Having not studied Behavioural Economics, I wonder if they have any of their scholars or branches could be said to focus on this particular area

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    $\begingroup$ I could not figure out why you added the Austrian tag so I removed it. Readd it if you disagree. $\endgroup$ – Giskard Sep 30 '15 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ Only because Mises speaks about Thymology in his epistemological work on history, "Theory and History". $\endgroup$ – Akiva Sep 30 '15 at 16:05
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Your first quote makes it clear that "thymology" is a wilfully abstruse word for psychology (though it's unclear why only male psychology is considered).

And psychology has been part of economics for as long as economics has been discussed. You can find psychology in Adam Smith and Aristotle. There was something of a barren period within the twentieth century when some economists disregarded psychology, but taking a historical perspective of the study of economics, that was a temporary aberration.

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  • $\begingroup$ Generally when people use "Men" in these contexts, it refers not to a specific sex, but to mankind in general. $\endgroup$ – Akiva Sep 30 '15 at 14:54
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    $\begingroup$ @EnergyNumbers Economics does not really deal with the "Why?" of preferences. (Unless you consider some basic results about prices and demand curves.) Preferences are accepted as existing and we build from that. Perhaps edit your answer to point out the differences between Behavioral Economics and other branches of Economics? $\endgroup$ – Giskard Sep 30 '15 at 15:17
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Let's all agree that the use of "thymology" is annyoing and instead call it psychology.

Then the answer is easy; Yes, behavioural economics looks specifically at factors that determine choice, and tries to understand what factors influence choice.

But, even better - psychology really studies this area!

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