Behavioral and Experimental Economics
As in most robust sciences, theory and methodology are not static in economics. In recent years, two of the most important developments have been the infusions from related behavioural sciences (psychology and sociology) and biology (neurosciences, genetics, evolutionary models) into economics of theories and concepts, together with the growth of experimental methods. Indeed, the Nobel prizes awarded to Daniel Kahneman and Vernon Smith in 2002 emphasise these developments.
UPF Economics and Business faculty members are at the forefront of these movements. In addition to work that integrates psychological and neuroscience dimensions into economic theory, the Department also has a well-equipped experimental laboratory (LeeX), where researchers can test existing and alternative theories of economics. Much of this work centres on issues in game theory and individual choice behaviour that lie at the heart of modern microeconomics.
The work in this area also has a strong applied element. For example, policies for public health typically make strong behavioural assumptions about individual behaviour that are consistent with conventional economic theory. However, what if people's judgments and preferences do not comply with these assumptions? How should ethical considerations be taken into account when dealing with economic decisions? Is it possible to change or "correct" behaviours, or do they tell us something about failures in the very concept of rationality itself?
UPF researchers in this group have received funding from Dirección General de Investigación Cientifíca y Técnica, EU-TMR Research Network, Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP), and Generalitat de Catalunya. Their findings have been published, inter alia, in American Economic Review, Econometrica, Economic Journal, Games and Economic Behavior, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Economic Theory, Experimental Economics, Journal of Health Economics, Journal of Mathematical Psychology, Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Management Science, Psychological Bulletin, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Review of Economic Studies, Psychological Review, Quarterly Journal of Economics, and Journal of Marketing Research.
Most of the faculty in this group teach in core UPF courses in undergraduate and graduate programmes, and use experiments as specific teaching tools. In several undergraduate courses, the methods of experimental economics are explicitly used to help students experience the effects of markets in ways that supplement traditional lectures and exercises. Courses on Experimental Economics and Behavioural Decision Making are also taught in the GPEFM graduate programme. Department faculty members are also active in different summers schools on experimental economics and bounded rationality.