E4 likes Tom Collins, Felsamisen and the real estate market. E4 is a rat. And it shows us why we are all a bit of economists.

shopping Queen

Once Shopping Queen

Nina is her name, the lucky one. Nina comes from Hamburg. She has decided on a red evening dress, high heels and a handbag. Your tattoos - arms, hands, Neck - work wonderfully into their look, as Guido explains.

Guido - this is Guido Maria Kretschmer, a German fashion designer, moderator and referee of the TV show "Shopping Queen". Nina did it: With her look she was voted Shopping Queen 2013, won a crown, a trip for two to the fashion metropolis New York, 1000 euros in shoppingMoney and tickets to New York Fashion Week.

More bang for the buck

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The TV format “Shopping Queen” is simple and entertaining: five come every week Women against each other for five consecutive days. Your task: Equipped with a given amount of money, to dress and style yourself as tastefully and elegantly as possible according to a given motto. Then each outfit is rated by all participants and by Guido, the lady with the highest number of points becomes the shopping queen.

Before you dismiss this format, which is ridiculed as “reality TV”, as a lower-tier television, a look at the rules of the game: you get a fixed amount X and have to use it - that is, spend the little money so that you get the greatest possible effect. More bang for the buck, as the Anglo-Saxons say - more boom for the well-earned coal.

Economy accompanies us through life

Do you know that? Of course, everyone knows it, it starts with the pocket money: You stand in the supermarket and think about how to get the ten euros pocket money useful spends – ice cream or chocolate? Or both? And if both, in what ratio? Eight euros for chocolate, two for ice cream? Half half?

Typically, this Problem accompanies us throughout our lives: we must work with a given Income, a fixed amount of money – economists speak of a budget – and consider how best to divide this budget among the many wishes that we want to fulfill.

The household theory

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In the economics community, this problem is studied under the heading of “household theory”, and economists understand that Art, complicated to describe simple problems:

To maximize the benefits ... an individual will buy such quantities of goods ... for which the psychic exchange rate between two goods (the marginal rate of substitution) is equal to the rate at which the two goods are exchanged.

It takes time and leisure to digest this chewing glare, only right when the whole is garnished with formulas and colorful graphics. And even if you understand it, who believes that? And above all: Who is this?

E4 - the rat that can count

We'll find someone who behaves like that in Texas. At the Animal Laboratories of Texas AundM University and at Washington University. There, between sterile corridors, rows of cages under neon lights, John H. Kagel, Raymond C. Battalio and Leonard Green have the elementary ones ideas of microeconomists subjected to the reality test – are the economists' ideas realistic? are they And the key witnesses wear fur. Or feathers.

Animals offer an easy way to test elementary economic principles, say the three researchers: You can repeat experiments, observe, change, you can reward the subjects - sorry, animals - and punish - many things that you can not easily with human subjects at least not without landing in front of the prosecutor or in the Bild newspaper.

More work when hungry?

For example, the researchers can test whether their proteges work more when they are hungry. Or whether they risk more when the feed bowl is empty. Or whether the support of the social welfare office leads them to work less.

Even if not nice is - with rats and pigeons you can do experiments that deal with People forbid. But if rats and pigeons follow economists' textbook theories, does that mean we know how humans behave? Can you do that? Behavior transmitted from animals to humans?

Economic laws in the cage

Hard to say. The researchers argue differently: if economic ideas fail in simple laboratory experiments, why should they in a much more complex one? Welt work beyond the cages?

Animal experiments are, so to speak, an attempt to refute economic theories - if animals don't stick to them, why then humans? So how do you test complicated economic hypotheses on animals? How would you describe that? Let's design an experiment. Let's take rats.

An unconditional basic income

For example, a rat named E4. Researchers are a little sentimental - while we give our animals lovely names - treasure, darling, hasi, angels or mistvieh - animals, the actual stars of the experiments, are only given with letters and numbers in scientific papers. A little heartless.

But back to E4. First, we give E4, a stately rat, free, unlimited access to normal feed and water, an unconditional basic income.

But there has to be a little luxury, so E4 has it Choice between two other drinks: Root Beer - an awfully sweet non-alcoholic blend of herbal and root extracts - and a Tom Collins Mix, which is a cocktail of lemon juice and simple syrup. We leave out the gin, which usually refines this mix, for obvious reasons.

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