Human foibles or systemic failure-Lay perceptions of the 2008-2009 financial crisis

David Leiser, Sacha Bourgeois-Gironde, Rinat Benita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined lay perceptions of the recent financial and economic crisis through 1707 questionnaires, administered via internet, to a varied group of volunteers in a range of countries: France, the US, Russia, Germany, Israel, and sub-Saharan Africa. Respondents graded the contribution of a large number of possible factors to the crisis, and answered several complementary questions. We were able to identify two major conceptions, one seeing the economy as comprised of individuals, with failings of moral or cognitive character, and the other seeing the economy as a complex system, endowed with some resilience, functioning in cycles. Support for the former view was stronger than for the latter. Several demographic variables were found to affect these perspectives significantly, including SES, economic training, religious beliefs, and the extent to which the respondent was personally affected by the crisis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-141
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Socio-Economics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Financial crisis
  • Globalization
  • Intentional bias
  • Lay understanding
  • Naive economic cognition
  • Social representations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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