Monday, April 16, 2012

Tyler Cowen Ties Signals And Symbols Together

See Invisible Hand to Mouth by GRAEME WOOD of The Wall Street Journal. It is a review of Tyler Cowen's book An Economist Gets Lunch.

The passage that got my attention was
"The second category is classic Cowen advice—heterodox, clever and preposterously, sometimes uselessly, specific. He advises, for example, looking for Thai restaurants attached to motels (more likely to be family-run and not desperate to make rent). For authenticity, he awards points to Pakistani restaurants that feature pictures of Mecca, since they're more likely to cater to Pakistani clientele. ("The more aggressively religious the d├ęcor, the better it will be for the food.")"

So he is using religious symbols as economic signals. This reminds me of a paper I wrote which was the subject of the first post of this blog. Click here to read that post. The article I wrote was "The Intersection of Economic Signals and Mythic Symbols." Here is the abstract:
""Mythic symbols and economic signals represent more than what they are. Symbols represent universal ideas and themes and evoke feelings and emotions while economic signals are simple, efficient signs that stand for a more complex set of costly to learn characteristics and information. Symbols deal with the irrational and economic signals deal with the rational. Many of the signals cited in the economic literature work well because they have a symbolic element that speaks to people's emotions. By evoking emotions, a signal makes the receiver feel more confident about the truthfulness of the information it represents. The intersection of symbols and signals illustrates the relationship between the rational world of facts and irrational world of emotions and values, a relationship which needs to be explored as part of the development of the ideal type of homosocioeconomicus, the selfish yet value and community driven person.""