The Freedom Center and Fall 2022 FC Talks series presents Johanna Jauernig (University of Arizona).


Johanna Jauernig has a background in philosophy, experimental economics, and moral psychology. Her research is rooted in the idea that understanding both the incentive structures and the cognitive mechanisms behind moral attitudes is crucial for the ethical analysis of societal problems. With this approach, she addresses topics such as market skepticism, agriculture-society tensions, and the societal impacts of disruptive technologies. After graduating in philosophy and social psychology at the University of Munich, she obtained her doctorate degree at the Technical University of Munich, TUM School of Management. Her articles have appeared in journals like the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Journal of Economic Psychology, and Philosophy and Technology.


External shocks, e.g., due to a pandemic, lead to price jumps in the short run. The resulting “price gouging” is often ascribed to sellers’ selfish exploitation of the crisis, rather than being read as a signal of scarcity. In our experimental study, we investigate the drivers of fairness perceptions regarding voluntary transactions in situations of scarcity. Our results show that this zero-sum fallacy is not driven by naïve mercantilism but by perceptions of power. By casting a light on the psychological mechanisms behind attitudes towards markets, this research agenda aims to better understand the legitimacy issues which can be interpreted as a moral paradox of modernity.