Nick Chater often receives rapid feedback on his work. He shares three lessons he has learned about human behaviour in the face of wicked problems like the pandemic.
The Behavioural Science group was founded in 2010, with the goal of linking theoretical and policy challenges in the social sciences with experimental methods and results drawn from the natural sciences. The interests of the group include behavioural and experimental economics, cognitive science, judgement and decision making at the individual as well as the organisational level, happiness and well-being, behaviour change, and the application of economic methods to social phenomena not generally included within economics. We examine these topics using quantitative methods such as laboratory and field experiments, modelling, and simulations. We also have a well-established focus on the interface between behavioural science and data science, where we seek to determine how vast datasets combined with machine learning can offer new insights into human behaviour.
Our dedicated state-of-the-art research laboratory is ideal for testing individual, interactive and group behaviour, and we have a standalone eye-tracking laboratory. We produce and disseminate world-class research and strive to transform the world by advising managers and policy makers, across public and private sectors, on how to design organisations that work better for their members and for society as a whole.
Current areas of research
Research in our group addresses fundamental questions including:
Are people rational?
What principles govern human behaviour?
What interventions lead to behaviour change?
To what extent can human behaviour be predicted?
What matters to people’s mental health and overall well-being?
How and why do people cooperate and coordinate with others?
When do people consider the thinking of others when making decisions?
How do culture and institutional factors interact with individual behaviour?
How do biases in individual behaviour impact firm and market level outcomes?
How can we rapidly measure human behaviour at societal scale?
What are the psychological and economic foundations of value?
Since human behaviour is at the heart of many social problems, obtaining the answers to these questions can help social planners and individual decision makers achieve better financial outcomes, a cleaner and more sustainable environment, and a healthy population. Our research informs our impact work in the financial, health, criminal, where we work with partners in industry, regulation and government, and charities to obtain and influence change in the world to improve well-being, health, and the environment.
The group teaches a portfolio of courses, from undergraduate to masters, MBA and Executive Education courses. We welcome outstanding potential PhD students and research fellows from a wide range of disciplines, including but not restricted to economics, psychology, and data sciences.
Head of group: Professor Neil Stewart.
WBS ranked fifth in the country for research by Times Higher Education after it analysed the UK's Research Excellence Framework results.
New research has enabled economic experts to pinpoint the UK’s local authorities most in need of the UK Government’s £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund.
Racial bias in police stop and search operations is not limited to decisions made by individual officers. Neil Stewart explores the scale and causes of the problem.
To mark World Health Day, behavioural scientist Dr Umar Taj shares some of his research aimed at improving health outcomes around the globe.
Professor Nick Chater reveals how cognitive bias can trap business leaders facing unfamiliar decisions.
The sounds of certain words can grate for some people and there is a reason for that. Nick Chater and Morten Christiansen explain how sound symbolism works.
Management fads and concepts come and go, but why do some gain more traction than others. Jeker Denrell, Professor of Behavioural, unearths some important lessons.