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. Becker and Stigler provide a forceful statement of this view:
- 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.