Methodological individualism

Methodological individualism is the principle that subjective individual motivation explains social phenomena, rather than class or group dynamics which are (according to proponents of individualistic principles) illusory or artificial and therefore cannot truly explain market or social phenomena.[1]

In economics

In neoclassical economics, people's behavior is explained in terms of rational choices as constrained by prices and incomes. The neoclassical economist accepts individuals' preferences as given. Gary Becker and George Stigler provide a forceful statement of this view:[2]

On the traditional view, an explanation of economic phenomena that reaches a difference in tastes between people or times is the terminus of the argument: the problem is abandoned at this point to whoever studies and explains tastes (psychologists? anthropologists? phrenologists? sociobiologists?). On our preferred interpretation, one never reaches this impasse: the economist continues to search for differences in prices or incomes to explain any differences or changes in behavior.