George Katona

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George Katona (6 November 1901, Budapest – 18 June 1981, West Berlin)[1] was a Hungarian-born American psychologist who was one of the first to advocate a rapprochement between economics and psychologists. He graduated with a doctorate in Experimental Psychology from the University of Göttingen in 1921, and worked in Germany until 1933, both as a journalist and as a psychological researcher. Originally trained as a Gestalt psychologist working on problems of learning and memory, during the Second World War he became involved in American government attempts to use psychology to combat war-induced inflation. This led him to consider the application of psychological principles to macroeconomics, devising measures of consumer expectations that eventually became the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index. Use of this index enabled him to predict the post-war boom in the United States at a time when conventional econometric indicators were predicting a recession, a success which helped his fledgling index establish itself. Katona wrote numerous books and journal articles advocating the development of economic psychology. These general ideas were taken up more fully in Europe than in the United States until the development, after his death, of modern behavioral economics.

Decision making[edit]

Katona contrasted "genuine decision" and "habitual behavior".[2] This remark is important. In fact, neoclassical economics deemed human decision making as genuine decision (with complete rationality), whereas evolutionary economics emphasized that economic behavior take a form of habits and customs.

Recent theory of artificial intelligence distinguishes GOFAI (Good Old-Fashioned Artificial Intelligence) and computational intelligence. In spite of the impression the term "computational intelligence" may indicate, researchers of computational intelligence doubt that high-level symbol manipulation alone could account for all intelligent behaviors. One can deem Katona's explanation of "habitual behavior" as one of the precursors of situated learning and knowledge.


(This list is currently incomplete.)

  • Organizing and Memorizing (1940)
  • War without inflation : the psychological approach to problems of war economy (1942)
  • Psychological Analysis of Economic Behavior (1951)
  • The powerful consumer
  • "The Mass Consumption Society" (1964)
  • Psychological economics (1975)
  • A new economic era (with Burkhard Strumpel) (1978)


  1. ^ Wärneryd, K.-E. (1982). The life and work of George Katona. Journal of Economic Psychology, 2, 1-31.
  2. ^ George Katona 1951 Psychological Analysis of Economic Behavior McGrow-Hill.