Excerpt from course description

Economic Psychology: Selected Topics


Economic decisions are ubiquitous and interwoven into many of our everyday experiences and especially in the context of work. We can define an economic decision as any decision related to the expenditure and saving of time, money and effort. For example, behaviors like negotiation, choice behavior, work effort, or knowledge sharing. All these behaviors occur in a social context.

In traditional economics it is assumed that people's actions are fuelled only by self interest, that they make rational decisions which maximize their utility, and that context is hardly relevant. This economic thinking has affected organizational theory and research for decades. Newer research in behavioral economics and finance, and economic and neuropsychology paint a very different picture. The social nature of human beings, the hardwiring of the brain, and the critical importance of context makes the assumptions of many microeconomic models incorrect and/or incomplete. People are not "homo economicus", they can operate with both self and other-interest simultaneously; people are human and fundamentally social and connected to one another.

Economic predictions fail to explain why we give money to a charity, value fairness over outcomes, walk away from a profitable deal, or why we help a co-worker. Economic psychology aims to describe, predict and explain the actual economic behavior of individuals, and groups.

In this course we learn about the main topics and engage with central discussions in the field, following the outline from ‘Economic Psychology: An introduction’ by Kirchler and Hoelzl. We combine topics from general, social and developmental psychology, as well as economics. In addition to the book, a collection of articles will be provided before the semester start.


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