Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Economics

First Advisor

Tracy Mott


Economics, Stimulus, Government spending


In chapter 10.6 of the General Theory, John Maynard Keynes addressed the idea that the general public finds some forms of government spending more palatable than others even if the forms they find more palatable are in fact known to be more wasteful. Keynes suggests that there is a tendency to analyze such spending on buildings and bridges through a business proposition lens, but spending on something like defense is exempted from such cost-efficient scrutiny because no one expects military spending to be a wise business proposition in the first place. Thus the public accepts wastefulness when it comes to fighter jets, but not solar power. I distill Keynes’s idea about the public’s acceptance of waste into experimental form to show that participants actually favor wastefulness. I test this notion by adopting a mental model in which government spending is evaluated on market norms and one in which social norms prevail. This type of model is an adaptation of relationship theory used in the field psychology. Using experimental survey data from undergraduate college students, this paper tests the notion that the acceptability of government spending projects is influenced by the type of relationship domain to which participants mentally assign that particular spending project. In other words, government spending that looks like a business project faces harsher scrutiny than government spending that does not look like a business project.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. This work may only be accessed by members of the University of Denver community. The work is provided by permission of the author for individual research purposes only and may not be further copied or distributed. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Christopher E. Stiffler


Received from author

File Format




File Size

62 pgs