The present study ventures a new look at these inner drives, traditionally regarded as “mortal sins” ever since they were designated as such by the early church in 400 AD. Instead of simply condemning those who succumb to these vices on ethical grounds, the authors investigate their origin and consequences and consider how behaviour can be redirected and desires controlled so as to avoid their negative influence. This utilitarian perspective is then expanded to include insights from behavioural economics showing among other things how the economy in general, and companies in particular, can deal with the issue of “mortal sins”. After all, one common accusation is that the business world does very well out of our vices, exploiting gluttony, for instance, which manifests itself in such things as consumer frenzy, fast fashion and binge drinking; or envy, which can be a spur to success in competition. How can the motives underlying the deadly sins be transformed and channelled to ensure positive consequences for everyone and prevent them harming society? How can, indeed must, economic theory be adapted and developed with input from behavioural economics to make even less-than-rational behaviour explicable? What can companies do to turn these “sins” into something ultimately positive? Answers to these questions can be found in this IW Analysis.
The Seven Deadly Sins Interpretations and recommendations from behavioural economics
Envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth and wrath – the so-called seven deadly sins are widely known and even more widely committed. The terms describe seven motives and behavioural patterns which, despite being branded as vices, actually steer many people’s conduct in their daily lives.
- Dominik H. Enste / Johanna Kary ·
- IW-Analyse No. 141 ·
- 21 January 2021