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Behavioral economics studies the effects of psychological, cognitive, emotional, cultural and social factors in the decisions of individuals or institutions, and how these decisions deviate from those implied by classical economic theory.
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Behavioral economics is primarily concerned with the bounds of rationality of economic agents. Behavioral models typically integrate insights from psychology, neuroscience and microeconomic theory. The study of behavioral economics includes how market decisions are made and the mechanisms that drive public opinion.
Behavioral economics began as a distinct field of study in the 1970s and '80s, but can be traced back to 18th-century economists, such as Adam Smith, who deliberated how the economic behavior of individuals could be influenced by their desires.
The status of behavioral economics as a subfield of economics is a fairly recent development; the breakthroughs that laid the foundation for it were published through the last three decades of the 20th century. Behavioral economics is still growing as a field, being used increasingly in research and in teaching.