Over the last 30 years, behavioral scientists have gained a deeper understanding of what motivates people, how they process information, and what non-economic features of the choice environment influence decisions. Many of their insights challenge traditional assumptions such as rationality, self-interest, time consistency. This research program called “Behavioral Economics” has shed light on how people’s decisions deviate from “optimal” choices as well as the consequences of such deviations.
At TRIBE we answer several different research questions. Here a selection of our current research projects.
The development of non-standard preferences
Are economic preferences an innate and specific characteristic of each human being or are they learnt through socialization? This fundamental question on nature or nurture has attracted the attention of developmental psychologist and, more recently, also of economists. With this project sponsored by the Carlsberg Foundation we run a series of large scale economic experiments with children and adolescents (from 5 to 18 year-old) directly in their schools in the Copenhagen area. Moreover, we want to combine behavioral data both with registered data and with self-reported data and ask both parents and teachers to participate in similar experiments to measure how these preferences are transmitted and shaped by their interaction with the child. The complexity of this unique dataset will allow us to: 1) study the development of preferences; 2) investigate if there is a correlation between the development of different types of preferences and 3) discover the determinants of this development. This research will improve our understanding of preferences and will help the policy maker to design programs that can foster academic achievement and propose interventions that can improve educational outcomes.
Behavioral Insights for Healthy Ageing
Healthy ageing is not only about the genes we are born with, but also the choices we make through our daily life. Thus, one easy way to foster healthy ageing is to influence and guide behavior of those who are healthy (e.g. stopping smoking, eating healthier, being active), of those who are at risk (e.g. engaging with screening programs and attending medical appointments), and of those who are already ill (e.g. taking medication as prescribed). However, this is not easy as it sounds: human behavior is often influenced by automatic, habitual and unconscious responses and people have limited self-control, attention, cognitive capacities and memory. With this project funded by the Nordea Foundation and part of the Center for Healthy Aging (CEHA) will design, conduct and evaluate a series of interventions based on behavioral insights to steer people towards a higher well-being. We will also investigate potential unintended side effects, heterogeneous effects on different target groups and finally clarify whether these interventions can be implemented effectively, enhancing individual health, increasing productivity and reducing the health costs for society.
An increasing fraction of human communication nowadays takes place via digital communication -email or text messaging- and face-to-face encounters are becoming less frequent. At the same time, our professional world is more and more knowledge based and the ability of humans to efficiently communicate, i.e. to share information and expertise, is crucial to modern business and technology. More than any other concept, “social capital” captures what is critical in the functioning of modern businesses and technology, namely the ability to derive economic benefit from social ties. Using this definition, we seek an unambiguous measure and quantification of social capital in an experimental setting. Such a methodology for quantification may ultimately be transferred to the real world and serve as a means of measuring the social capital of an actual business or any other knowledge-based organization – thereby leading to greater work satisfaction and more efficient cooperation between professionals.
Every day the news reports about corporate scandals where dishonest behavior causes damages to the society for millions of dollars. However, these scandals account only for one part of the dishonesty we observe in the real world. Many ordinary people cheat on taxes, steal from the workplace, inflate expenses. Using the interdisciplinary methods of behavioral and experimental economics, we aim to study dishonesty in both the lab and the field.