This chapter portrays consumers, presenting three distinct characterizations and a demographic survey. While the different portraits may clash and groan at times, they form an interesting composite.

Mainstream economics projects an image of consumers as people with clear goals, complete information, and the capacity to scan all of their options over time and space. This consumer is highly idealized, of a genre that economists call homo economicus (economic man) as opposed to homo sapiens sapiens (our biological genre).