Making Self-Interest into an Emotion

As a profession, psychologists have been seen as scientists of the mind, modern-day priests, and shapers of the languages of introspection and self-understanding. Yet this paper shows that psychologists have also been the promoters of rational forms of action. Psychologists who worked inside economic organizations in the 1930s not only scrutinized emotions with a new scientific vocabulary but also promoted the view that grievances between workers and management be formulated and negotiated according to “self-interest.” This paper examines how psychologists made emotions rational.

Eva Illouz could not attend the conference herself, but agreed that Susan Neiman can read out her Manuscript.

The talk is part of the international conference “Why Do We Believe in Self-Interst?” chaired by Susan Neiman. It took place at the Einstein Forum in Potsdam.