Learn to use principles and methods of behavioural economics to change behaviours, improve welfare and make better products and policy.
How can we get people to save more money, eat healthy foods and engage in healthy behaviours, and more generally make better choices? There has been a lot written about the fact that human beings do not process information and make decisions in an optimal fashion. This course builds on much of the fascinating work in the area of behavioural economics and allows the student to develop a hands-on approach by learning its methods and more importantly, how it can be harnessed by suitably designing contexts to “nudge” choice. In three modules, students will be able to a) explain and interpret the principles underlying decision-making and compare the nudging approach to other methods of behaviour change, b) learn how to critique, design and interpret the results of experiments; and c) design nudges and decision-tools to help people make better decisions. Understanding experimental design and interpretation is central to your ability to truly use behavioural economics and will set you apart from people who merely know about the behavioural research. Hence, after the first two weeks of understanding the basic principles, we will devote two weeks to studying experimental design and analysis, and the final two weeks to understanding processes for designing nudges and for helping people make better decisions.
Students will also witness and participate in weekly topical debates on various topics like “does irrationality impact welfare?” or “What strategy is better for improving welfare – nudging or education?” If you’ve been fascinated with the buzz surrounding behavioural economics but are not sure how to actually use it, this course is for you.
Guest Appearances: Several leading scholars, policy makers, businesspeople and authorscommentators will make short appearances in our debate and discussion sections. These guests include Professor Sendhil Mullainathan (Harvard University), Professor John Lynch (University of Colorado), Rory Sutherland (Ogilvy Group), Owain Service (Behavioural Insights Team, UK Cabinet Office), Shankar Vedantam (NPR Columnist and Author – The Hidden Brain), Professors Andrew Ching, Avi Goldfarb, Nina Mazar, and Claire Tsai, Min Zhao (University of Toronto) and many others!
Dilip Soman, Professor at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. Dilip does research on interesting human behaviours and their applications to consumer welfare, policy and financial literacy. He is also interested in research on poverty, global health, education and development in the global south. In his past life, he has degrees in engineering and management, worked in sales and advertising, consulted for several organizations, and taught at Colorado, Hong Kong and now in Toronto. When not working, he spends time on photography, reading, taking weekends seriously and agonizing over successive Indian cricket teams.
Joonkyung (Joon) Kim is a Ph. D. student at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in business administration from the Seoul National University. She is interested in researching physical and psychological factors which can lead people to change their existing opinion, thinking and behavior. In her capacity as the head teaching associate for this course, Joon will be leading and moderating discussion boards and will help with generating and curating content.
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