Behavioral Economics: When Psychology and Economics Collide

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Parts were interesting It seemed to me that much of the course was not especially interesting and also would have no practical application. The descriptions of games played in test settings were interesting, as was the telling of how companies use psychology to sell products. But a lot of the course was highly theoretical and academic, which I found boring.
Date published: 2018-04-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating and Understandable As a physician, I deal with people and decision-making every day. This course had great topics, useful information, backed up with research evidence. The professor explained things well and concisely, and with a sense of humor. I learned a lot, and I will probably go through it again so I can retain more for my own use.
Date published: 2018-04-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from It put me to sleep. It looks to me like the professor is walking around reading from teleprompters. I think I will read a book on the subject instead. Returned the course today for a refund.
Date published: 2018-03-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just what I was looking for Excellent presentation and content, I recommend this to any investor at any stage of life. I retake this course every 18 months just to keep me on my toes. I will not let this one go.
Date published: 2017-09-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Popular subject Game theory, Psychology Freakonomics. Human Motivation. Its all here! I started with Decision Making by Roberto which course I also recommend. You do not need the Video on this one. Definitely makes you more aware of the choice making process with all the inherent Bias's.
Date published: 2017-05-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating! I am a psychologist but haven't taken an econ course since high school. I thought the way the instructor showed how psych influences our economic perspective really interesting. Some of the relationships discussed are counter-intuitive, so I disagree with the reviewer who though the course was too basic. My favorite econ course from GC is the one on rational decision-making, but both that course and this one are real keepers.
Date published: 2017-04-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I had recently read Richard Thaler's (a pioneer in the field) "Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics" and so I was eager to purchase this course when it became available from TGC. After completing the course, i.e., listening to the lectures and reading the Course Guidebook, I am quite satisfied. Thaler's book helped me understand the historical resistance that behavioral economics faced from mainstream economics, but Professor Huettel's lectures helped me understand the impressive scope that behavioral economics has currently achieved in the behavioral and decision sciences. These lectures indicate that we humans are not always the maximizing, optimizing, flawless "calculators" that traditional economic theory assumes, and that we have hidden, and not so hidden, biases that impede "rational" decisions and choices. Much of the early impetus for behavioral economics came from the labs of cognitive psychologists using their favorite "guinea pigs", i.e., undergraduates. (Of course, mainstream economists question the applicability of these lab results to the "real world" suggesting that, in the aggregate, real market behavior approaches rational, optimizing behavior, and they express their distrust of lab results when the rewards are -- mockingly said -- additional vouchers to the college dining room.) But anyway, Huettel has convinced me that these biases exist and that they exist outside the lab. I was particularly impressed with: (1) his discussion of human loss aversion, where say a $100 loss is more painful to most of us than the joy a $100 gain generates, (2) his discussion of "intertemporal" decisions where we value immediate gains vs. deferred gains showing some people are very patient in waiting for larger, more distant rewards while others opt for it all now regardless of greater promised gains at a later date, (3) the notion of "bounded rationality" where we invoke rationality up to a point by using proven rules-of-thumb and are said to achieve satisfactory ("satisficing"), but not optimal, results, and (4) the lecture on the human tendency to see patterns when it's really only randomness, which reminded me of a late-night TV health huckster I once saw who said "there are no coincidences in this world!' This is real interesting, and important, stuff. My only regret was that I found the first half of the course far more interesting than the latter half which was more focused on the social aspects of decision-making. The Professor's lecture style is smooth and flowing; I don't think he made one verbal mistake. I did note that he seems to exhibit an inflection of tone for about every fifth word, as a way of emphasis, which is like italicizing every fifth word in a written context. It's no big deal, but after a while I found it somewhat amusing. Here's an irony: while behavioral economics shows how inherent biases limit our rational decision-making in many economic and other areas, "rational choice theory", although now challenged on its home turf in economics, has been branching out into other fields like explaining criminal behavior (criminology) and exploring religious motivation (see TGC's "Introduction to the Study of Religion").
Date published: 2017-03-25
Rated 2 out of 5 by from behavioral economics Nothing new here ;Just about most boring course in economics.
Date published: 2016-06-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very Good Course, No Video Required I purchased this course very recently. I bought the video download version. Figured for the little bit of additional cost I would like to see the video presentation. Maybe this is premature because I have only gone through the first seven or eight lectures. I find the course material fascinating. Very thought provoking and educational. However, I find no additional value in the video. For those who are cost conscious, the audio download would have been just fine. There is a lecture on the "Range Effect" which is spot on for what I am referring to. Don't want to give away the secret. Suffice it to say, the additional money between the audio download and the video download did not overcome the "Range Effect" for me. I don't need to see the professor pacing from one corner of the carpet to the other for 30+ minutes every lecture. This appears to be true for the other courses I purchased which featured professors from Duke Univ. I think they use the same room, but put in a different area carpet...
Date published: 2016-05-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Understand Thyself As Consumer and Decision Maker [Audio]. This is a rather broad course on behavior economics and decision making and covers a lot of topics in this area. It is not difficult to follow even if someone does not have formal background in economics or psychology as what the professor covers applies to our own everyday experiences as consumers. It's humorous to see our own consumer biases as we make decision on purchases. But this course could make a real difference in someone's life if you listen to a presentation like Medical Decision Making. Understanding our own fears and biases at a critical junction in our lives could help you make the right decision when it counts. This is one of those TGC courses that people should return to if they need to make important decisions in their lives to better reflect and understand their own decision making process. Besides, the professor has a nice lecture voice and it's a pleasure to listen to.
Date published: 2015-10-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Why Did I Choose What I Chose? I was intrigued when they announced this course. My own goal in taking it was to get an overview of behavioral economics, to try to see where it fits among the fields of psychology, decision analysis, and economics. By the end of the course, my tentative answer to all of these was yes. It's part of or applicable to all of these. Professor Heuttel is a straight-forward lecturer with a polished presentation, easy to understand, who holds your interest so tightly that the end of the lecture sneaks up on you, leaving you wanting more. I really like his style, and he shares his enjoyment of this field. His lectures cover the topics, as you would expect, but they are full of the pertinent experimental results and descriptions to bring the topic alive. This is empirical science at its best. My own interest in his topics revolved around my background in decision analysis. Behavioral economics adds a phase to the traditional analytical and game theoretic results as they are applied to real world decisions. It provides a framework upon which to understand the comparison between the theoretical optimum behavior and the results we actually obtain in the field. Many of the results are already in use in product marketing and political campaigning. It is valuable to see how the techniques and results can be used to influence public choices between alternatives in purchasing and political situations. As a consumer, or as a voter, in today's heavily marketed environment, it is critical that you understand the behavioral factors. When somebody asks you to choose between alternatives, the manner in which the choices are presented is as important as the choice themselves. This course will position you to understand how your own mind tends to choose between the alternatives when they are given to you. And it gives insights into the methods used by the people who present the choices to you. A nugget within this course was his presentation of a technical definition of the word “rational.” I have quibbled with economists before when they called the behavior of economic actors “irrational,” my point being that if the real world does not behave as their model does, it is not that the world is irrational, it's that their model is inadequate. Professor Heuttel points out in lecture 1 that when economists use the term “rational”, it is used in a technical sense meaning “with the base set of behaviors postulated at the initiation of the analysis.” Modern Americans are candidates for the most “marketed to” population that has ever existed. Decisions matter. We know their importance, and we know the difficulties we encounter making the choices. At the same time we face increasing numbers of people who want to influence us. Professor Heuttel does an excellent job of increasing our knowledge of how we do make those decisions, with a side helping of how we can more easily make them, or make them better.
Date published: 2015-05-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Happy to have chosen it. I really needed something like that to discover more about myself and also about others. Why do we make the choices we make? It always made me wonder. Behavioral is such an interesting field!
Date published: 2014-11-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Practical Insight on Decision Making The audio download version of this course worked well for me. I'm a volunteer in a non-profit organization, doing lots of fundraising. This course gave me some excellent ideas on improving my fundraising tactics, as the professor discussed the ways that people make decisions to donate or not. There is a lot of good information in the course for those who supervise people at work and in other contexts. Relevant research was cited by the professor to back up the major concepts that were presented. I was pleased with the course content and happy that I purchased the course.
Date published: 2014-09-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An eye opener I have some background in economics, at MBA level, and have taken one course on consumer behavior. Other than that, I had absolutely no background in behavioral economics. This course was fantastic. It was simply brimming with insight on fascinating topics, most of which were rather new to me. Each lecture is dedicated to one psychological mechanism that seems to defy our concept of ourselves in conventional economics – namely that we are primarily rational. In contrast to some of the previous reviews, I did not find most of the material to be common-sensual. That is to say, some of the mechanisms discussed are pretty obvious (such as framing for example), but even for these, the lectures go far, far beyond simply explaining the mechanisms. They demonstrate through summaries of experiments how these mechanisms were manifested, sometimes in really unexpected ways. In some of the experiments, it turns out that not only are people not cold rational beings, but their behavior simply doesn't make sense. Are we all in fact idiots?! One especially funny experiment demonstrated that people had approximately the same capacity of delaying satisfaction as rats did. Professor Huettel demonstrates in many of the lectures how interdisciplinary this field is, bringing studies from economics, game theory, psychology, neuro-science, and anthropology to demonstrate some of the mechanisms. Some of the topics WERE new to me altogether. A good example is the distinction of how we behave in circumstances when randomness is involved, but the probabilities of different scenarios are known, in contrast to how we behave when even the probabilities are not known (this is termed "ambiguity" in the lecture). This is something that I had never considered before… In the first few lectures I was ambivalent towards the professor's teaching style: on the one hand he was extremely thorough, structured and clear – in fact he sometimes seemed that this thoroughness caused the lectures to be a bit unanimated and even a bit boring at points. I persevered, however, and I am glad I did. As the course progressed I found that his thoroughness served the course very well because the mechanisms are demonstrated and explained quite exhaustively in such a manner that does the complexity of this field justice. I did not like the bits at the end of each lecture in which the professor explained how to counterbalance the biases discussed in the lecture. It sounded too much like self help to me, but fortunately these bit were pretty short. The Professor has a very dry and subtle sense of humor which, although well camouflaged, is ever present in the lectures. It is this scarcity in humor that makes the available tidbits all the more delicious.
Date published: 2014-07-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Life-long learner I am a life-long learner. I have purchased many from your company. I tend to purchase courses on subjects about which I know very little, but want to begin to understand. I have no particular training, expertise or knowledge in behavioral economics. I have a great deal of respect for the lecturers used by The Great Courses. They are consistently well-versed in their topic; very engaging and easy for me to listen to. Prof. Huettel is no exception. I did not listen to this course with the intent of being overly critical of his methods or to engage in an academic debate with him. I am a critical listener and evaluator. I learned a lot from this course. I enjoyed listening to the course. I learned things that I did not know before and enjoyed doing it. I am interested enough to explore the subject further with additional courses related to the subject of behavioral economics. (In the interest of full disclosure, I am related to Prof, Huettel by marriage.)
Date published: 2014-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting interdisciplinary approach (CD review) I have long been interested in and fascinated by consumerism, economics and psychology. This course artfully examined the interrelatedness between these areas using research results to support the observations. Professor Huetell was easy to listen to and delivered a nearly flawless presentation. He did an admirable job at tying the information together and summarizing the main points. While not everyone would likely be as interested in this material as I am, I think everyone could benefit by learning some new strategies for how to make better consumer decisions.
Date published: 2014-03-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from It did not hold our interest I am very interested in both Psychology and Economics and looked forward to the course. Both my wife and I listened to the entire course hoping that it would get better. The lecture was not able to hold our interest. There may have been too much emphasis on brain functioning and the experimentation rather than practical applications.
Date published: 2014-03-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Too simplistic I was very excited about this course, but it was so simplistic that it didn't expand the knowledge I received 40 years ago from a basic Econ course in college. As several reviewers have noted--most of the suggestions and "psychology" are just common sense. Recommend skipping this one unless you just need a very basic course and have extra time on your hands.
Date published: 2014-02-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from One little mistake This is a very well presented and thorough course on a new and important branch of economics. I have been waiting to learn about this topic for a while, and this course gave me everything I wanted. Unfortunately, it contains one widely repeated factual error, which I feel I must correct. The professor claims that Rhine's ESP research can be explained away as an example of the "hot hands" effect i.e. apparenl short term patterns that turn out to be chance when the entire sample is measured. This is false. No one with an expert's competence in statistics who has actually looked at Rhine's data has claimed this. Perse Diaconis, a statistician who still remains hostile to Rhine's conclusions, admitted after looking at the data that it could not be explained away this way. He then posited without evidence that Rhine must have falsified his data. The great computer scientist Alan Turing said that "the statistical evidence, at least for telepathy, is overwhelming." Again, a minor mistake, made by dozens of great thinkers and researchers who would never make such unfounded statements about any other topic. The rest of the course is terrific.
Date published: 2014-01-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Important complement to rational economics This was a good course. It really puts traditional economics which is based on the assumption 'man is a rational being' into its proper perspective. As such, if you are interested in economics, marketting, or business, your really should take this course. The professor is knowledgable, articulate and easy to listen to. Plenty of examples are given and much of the course has direct applicability to real life. My main source of disappointment was that much of the research in this field simply verifies common sense and how we normally do things in real life, eg we drive across town to save $20 on groceries but we do not to save $20 on a TV set. There are also occasional contradictory studies, eg framing a propostition positively in one study increased subject engagement, whereas in another study engagment was enhanced by negatively framing a proposition. I listened to the course twice, but I must confess, there weren't too many 'view altering' points that I took home. In any case, the content of this course is original, important, and should be a part of the education of anyone serious about economics or business.
Date published: 2014-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Comprehensive Look at a Fascinating New Field AUDIO VERSION As both an employee of The Great Courses and a onetime student of Behavioral Economics, I am no doubt biased. I was really looking forward to this course and raced through every lecture. Behavioral economics is a relatively new discipline and a tricky subject to teach as it is still very much in its infancy. Professor Huettel wisely spends the initial lectures defining the history of the field and establishing the environment in which behavioral economics emerged. In describing the varied principles of behavioral economics, it's helpful to draw contrasts with traditional economic models of rational behavior. Professor Huettel does an excellent job of laying this groundwork and weaving these contrasts repeatedly throughout the course. Professor Huettel also does a nice job of balancing the benefits that different audiences might get from this course. For the scientist, there are detailed accounts of the latest findings in the field, particularly those which introduce the role of neuroscience, brain function, and brain chemistry. Most of this is new since I went to college. For the professional, there is much to consider with regard to pricing models, product strategies, and marketing. For the individual looking to understand and improve his own decision making, the course is brimming with food for thought. Nearly every lecture highlights examples of "flaws" or biases that affect our everyday decision making. Addressing all of these angles does nothing to diminish the comprehensiveness of this course. Professor Huettel covers all of the bases -- heuristics, prospect theory, framing and reference dependence, probability, salience, risk vs. ambiguity, range effects, anchoring, incentives, crowd behavior... it really is quite a lot packed into 24 lectures. As it ultimately is about our own human behavior, the field of behavioral economics should be a fun topic, yet I must admit Professor Huettel managed to make it sound dry at times. He's not one of those professors who entrances the listener with engaging personal stories. Rather, he sticks to the facts. Luckily for us, there is more than enough substance to make this a fascinating listen.
Date published: 2014-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Practical and worthwhile Hi there: this is my first review and perhaps my only review, but after reading the first reviewer's comments I am compelled to add a contrasting perspective. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and learned tips on better decision making. The lectures on Range Effects, Medical Decision Making, and Framing are particularly practical and worthwhile. At present, my husband and I are making an investment decision - and I'm putting what I learned in these lectures to good use. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2014-01-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Dry, in spite of professor's attempts Behavioral economics can be a very dry subject, even though it has gotten much publicity. It focuses on the psychology of economic decisions. The professor early on debunks the prior ideas of "rationality" in economics. Psychology is part of it, also. Of course, if you think about human behavior you know it is not rational; Freud showed this more a century ago, even if you discount Freud's other views. In this course, the prof. covers many (often abstract, because they are "experiments") situations such as purchasing, group decisions, use of evidence and risk-taking. He does so uncritically, however. I would rather hear him comment on his methods and findings rather than just report them. It is very important to note that the prof is talking about "economic decision-making" even though he keeps saying "decision-making." So this is not a "universal" psychology or "behavior" course. It is really rather flat, making many special terms for relatively common sense experiences. The prof tries hard to make an organized, clear course (which he does) but the translation, IMHO, is rather boring. Most of behavioral economics is based on experimental psychology design, which means that it is usually done in controlled and often artificial, hypothetical situations, with limited samples (usually college students), not "real life." However, because it is "science" it is often given more credit that in might deserve. Even in the course, the prof. often discusses "what we found" without commenting on how it was "found", what were the limits, etc. There are areas in psychology that are not only influenced by experimental psych and can give more depth to human values. I give the prof. credit for organizing this course and being clear. He uses many many technical terms, which he does explain, but they do become jargon. However, the course did not hold my attention nor did it justify why if you have one or two experiments why you can translate this to "human behavior" under many conditions. I recommend this course if you like technical material, but not if you are interested in broad, cultural approaches in human psychology.
Date published: 2014-01-08
  • y_2021, m_5, d_8, h_18
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.15
  • cp_2, bvpage2n
  • co_hasreviews, tv_2, tr_31
  • loc_en_CA, sid_5532, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getReviews, 6.84ms
Behavioral Economics: When Psychology and Economics Collide
Course Trailer
What Is a Good Decision?
1: What Is a Good Decision?

Begin by examining "rational choice" models of decision making from traditional economics, which assume consistent, foresighted, and self-interested decision makers. Then consider how this concept fails to explain many human decisions that appear counterintuitive or paradoxical. Identify two fundamental limitations that challenge our decision-making process.

32 min
The Rise of Behavioral Economics
2: The Rise of Behavioral Economics

Grasp how behavioral economics uses methods from both economics and psychology to better understand biases and anomalies in decision making-factors that "rational choice" models don't explain. Learn three core experimental principles of behavioral economics, and about Prospect Theory, which helps explain what human beings value.

29 min
Reference Dependence-It's All Relative
3: Reference Dependence-It's All Relative

The element of "value" lies at the heart of decision making. Explore the nature of value and the roles of both pleasure and "benefit" in human choices. Then study the neurobiology of decision making and the ways in which the neurotransmitter dopamine creates expectations and activates reward seeking or "wanting," an integral factor in our behavior.

29 min
Reference Dependence-Economic Implications
4: Reference Dependence-Economic Implications

"Reference dependence" is one of the most central concepts in behavioral economics. Learn how human beings use value to create an expectation or reference point in many decision-making situations, leading to biases that affect choices. Consider how these biases influence both individual and market behavior, and how understanding them can help us make better decisions.

28 min
Range Effects-Changing the Scale
5: Range Effects-Changing the Scale

The principle of "range effects" describes how the relative difference between two quantities becomes less meaningful as the absolute values of those quantities get larger. Grasp how this phenomenon explains apparent inconsistencies in human behavior, and how its existence is linked to our biology. Learn specific steps you can take to minimize its unwanted influence on your decisions.

29 min
Probability Weighting
6: Probability Weighting

"Probability weighting" describes how people tend to convert objective information about probability into a subjective sense of what may happen-which can lead to bias and error. Observe how this applies to real-life situations such as buying life or travel insurance, and learn two tools to change how you deal with probabilities.

29 min
Risk-The Known Unknowns
7: Risk-The Known Unknowns

Tolerance for risk is another fundamental element of decision making. Learn how behavioral economics evaluates "risk aversion" and "risk seeking" in both economic and personal contexts, and grasp the role of perceived benefits and perceived risks in explaining risk-taking behavior and choices. Finally, study two basic principles for managing risk.

29 min
Ambiguity-The Unknown Unknowns
8: Ambiguity-The Unknown Unknowns

In behavioral economics, "ambiguity" refers to conditions in decision making in which we do not know and cannot estimate the probabilities of potential outcomes. Here, investigate three circumstances in decision making that produce ambiguity: "hidden information," "asymmetrical knowledge," and "unfamiliar contexts." Then, learn a two-step approach for dealing effectively with ambiguity.

28 min
Temporal Discounting-Now or Later?
9: Temporal Discounting-Now or Later?

Now consider a fundamental challenge in decisions involving time: temporal discounting, or the human tendency to view rewards as worth less in the future than they are in the present. Study real-life examples of this phenomenon, three explanations for why it occurs, and key approaches to making better time-related decisions.

29 min
Comparison-Apples and Oranges
10: Comparison-Apples and Oranges

This lecture explores how people create and compare the subjective values of different options in order to make a decision. Review substantial evidence indicating that our brains construct subjective value at the moment of a decision; then look at ways to use this process of active construction to your advantage.

28 min
Bounded Rationality-Knowing Your Limits
11: Bounded Rationality-Knowing Your Limits

The concept of "bounded rationality" describes human behavior regarding complex decisions. Using the example of purchasing a car, observe how our brains naturally narrow options and judge alternatives, creating simple rules to make complexity manageable. Learn also about "unconscious decision making" and surprising data suggesting that active deliberation can often impede good decisions.

30 min
Heuristics and Biases
12: Heuristics and Biases

Behavioral economics defines "heuristics" as internal rules or tools that people use to optimize decision making. Explore four of the most commonly used heuristics, observable in decisions involving memory, valuation, probabilities, and emotions. Using real-world examples, identify where these tools are helpful, and where they fail.

31 min
Randomness and Patterns
13: Randomness and Patterns

Here, look into the nature of randomness-situations in which we can't predict the future from the past-and why it matters for decision making. Study how our brains automatically look for patterns and structure, often "seeing" patterns whether they are present or not, and learn ways to counteract this tendency.

30 min
How Much Evidence Do We Need?
14: How Much Evidence Do We Need?

Study the role of evidence, or "meaningful information," in decision making and the kinds of mistakes we make with regard to it. Grasp how we tend to overestimate the quality of evidence and to seek evidence that confirms our prior beliefs, and how we can learn to minimize our biases regarding evidence.

29 min
The Value of Experience
15: The Value of Experience

Regarding buying decisions, consider the value we attach to purchasing experiences. Review studies comparing purchases of material goods with experiences, and evidence that purchases of experiences lead to more happiness. Consider the role of memory in the satisfaction related to experiences, and how we can prioritize our buying decisions for greater quality of life.

30 min
Medical Decision Making
16: Medical Decision Making

In the high-stakes world of medical decisions, learn how behavioral biases apply to both patients and their physicians. Study three key factors that influence how we make medical decisions. Finally, learn how to apply the principles of behavioral economics to this specific area, so that the process of decision making improves.

31 min
Social Decisions-Competition and Coordination
17: Social Decisions-Competition and Coordination

Now consider how the decision process changes when we coordinate our decisions with others. In doing so, encounter the elements of game theory, which models interactions during strategic decision making. Study the challenges involved in small group decisions, the role of emotion in their outcomes, and recommendations for navigating interpersonal decisions.

31 min
Group Decision Making-The Vox Populi
18: Group Decision Making-The Vox Populi

This lecture examines the "wisdom of crowds," where groups are shown to make better decisions than individuals. Explore why this is so, focusing on the element of diversity, and also where this phenomenon fails. Evaluate the primary factors in good group decisions and how to promote them in a range of contexts.

30 min
Giving and Helping-Why Altruism?
19: Giving and Helping-Why Altruism?

Why do people act to help others, even when those actions may not be in their own interest? Investigate the nature of altruism and human behavioral biases that affect generosity and charitable giving. Identify how we can use these biases as tools to both encourage giving and make better decisions.

30 min
Cooperation by Individuals and in Societies
20: Cooperation by Individuals and in Societies

Here, explore why we (and other animals) work together for mutual gain, and what kinds of interactions lead to cooperative behavior. Observe how cooperation arises through a combination of self-interest, awareness of others' actions, and social norms, and how it is maintained through practices of punishment and reward.

31 min
When Incentives Backfire
21: When Incentives Backfire

In certain cases, incentives can backfire, actually discouraging behavior that they're intended to encourage. Review studies demonstrating this effect in both small-scale interpersonal interactions and large-scale social policies. Identify how external incentives can undermine people's internal motivations, and study four key guidelines for where incentives work.

30 min
Precommitment-Setting Rationality Aside
22: Precommitment-Setting Rationality Aside

In "precommitment" strategies, we make binding decisions in the present for benefits in the future. Study precommitment in situations such as retirement savings, economic transactions, and organ donation programs. Learn how it works effectively when it is credible and costly, and how we can use it to improve our personal quality of life.

30 min
Framing-Moving to a Different Perspective
23: Framing-Moving to a Different Perspective

A "framing" effect is a change in people's decisions when the same objective information is presented in two different ways. Grasp the powerful effects of framing in examples from consumer marketing, investing, and retirement planning. Learn how the framing effect provides a highly potent tool for making good decisions.

29 min
Interventions, Nudges, and Decisions
24: Interventions, Nudges, and Decisions

Conclude with a look at how leaders and policymakers can shape other people's decisions. Consider five core approaches to influencing beneficial decisions, and a key policy model that fosters people's well-being while maintaining their autonomy. Reflect on both ethical concerns about the scientific study of decision making and its real potential to improve lives.

31 min
Scott Huettel

Over the past half-century, decision scientists have identied anomalies, or biases, in people's behavior that can't readily be explained with traditional economic models.


Duke University


Duke University

About Scott Huettel

Professor Scott Huettel is the Jerry G. and Patricia Crawford Hubbard Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. He earned his Ph.D. from Duke in Experimental Psychology and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in functional brain imaging and decision science at the university’s medical center. He is also the founding Director of the Duke Center for Interdisciplinary Decision Science. Professor Huettel is a leading researcher at the intersection of behavioral economics and neuroscience. His laboratory uses a combination of behavioral, genetic, physiological, and neuroscience techniques to discover the neural mechanisms that underlie higher cognition, with a focus on economic and social decision making. He is an author of more than 100 scientific publications, including articles in Science, Nature Neuroscience, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Neuron, Psychological Science, and other top journals in several fields. His research has been featured in CNN, Newsweek, Money magazine, NPR Science Friday, and many other media outlets. He is lead author on a primary textbook in neuroscience, Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and he is a coeditor of the textbook Principles of Cognitive Neuroscience. Professor Huettel is a recipient of the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring from the Duke University Graduate School, and has been recognized as one of the top 5 percent of undergraduate instructors at Duke.

Also By This Professor