Hi Diego. I agree, I think that studying economics often tends to exalt selfishness in people, although I think it has more to do with the approach that is given to this discipline.
On the other hand, I believe that selfishness is also something intrinsic in anyone regardless of whether the person has basic studies in economics. Dan Ariely is a researcher at Duke University and is dedicated to conducting experiments in the area of behavioral economics. There is a documentary entitled (Dis)Honesty in which various experiments are carried out to university students (not necessarily economists) and he tries to prove how irrational individuals can be and also talks about morality.
The interesting thing about the documentary and Ariely’s work is that he conceptualizes the sense of morality as something dependent on the degree of cheating with which a person feels comfortable. That is, Ariely argues that a person can lie and think that his action are not so bad because there are little or no consequences or he can convince himself that his act will not directly affect third parts. For example, a high performance athlete who consumes doping substances may think that he is doing no harm probably because all of the other competitors are also doping themselves even though knowing this is illegal.
In the documentary Ariely describes different experiments with students and finds that many times people tend to lie according to external incentives and can also change their behavior if these incentives change slightly. In turn, Ariely finds in his research that people who lie constantly and to a large extent is a minority, however, there are many more people who lie sporadically and in small scenarios. This, as he argues, can be worrisome because when seeing these acts in an aggregate way, these can have a great economic impact; for example, if a great number of people slightly underestimate their income to pay less taxes, could cause a great reduction in public resources.
Finally, I invite you and anyone interested to watch the documentary (it’s on Netflix). It’s entertaining and gives another perspective on human behavior and how rational or moral we really are.
Also, here is his webpage for more detail on his research