Human Decisions and Policy Design
What role do emotions play in our decisions? Can 'choice architecture' nudge consumers into selecting the best-value, healthiest or most suitable options? As society ages, can we expect our pensions to remain secure? How do incentives affect management behaviour in firms, regulatory authorities and banks? What is the most effective way to provide public services? Should the world’s wealth be distributed more equitably – and if so, how? Answering challenging questions such as these requires us to look beyond the limitations of the hyper-rational Homo economicus on which classical economics was predicated, and toward the much more complex Homo behavioralis we see in the mirror.
Taking a highly interdisciplinary approach, this team of some 30 core and affiliated researchers draws on the methods and insights provided by cognitive and social neuroscience, economics, finance, accounting and marketing. Their work, which builds on the long-standing strengths of the cross-faculty Maastricht University Center for Neuroeconomics (MU-CEN), includes both fundamental and applied research, and will centre on three key areas: human behaviour and motivation, incentives and governance, and financial well-being.
With the aim of producing outputs that can help address problems such as obesity and poverty, support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and improve laws, financial practices and government policies, Human Decisions and Policy Design researchers will focus not only on broadening our understanding of the decisions made by individuals and societies, but on helping to provide the evidence base for building more effective and equitable institutions.
From the moment we wake up in the morning, every one of us makes thousands of decisions every day, and each one of them has an impact on our life, health and financial well-being
Lisa Brüggen, leader of the Human Decisions and Policy Design research theme
In the spotlight
Too hormonal? Testosterone's role in financial rollercoasters
Peiran Jiao's co-authored study of the behaviour of financial market workers, 'The Bull of Wall Street: Experimental Analysis of Testosterone and Asset Trading', indicates that testosterone drives competitive bidding, thereby producing larger bubbles. Moreover, it reduces trading performance and increases trader overconfidence.
Good for you? 'Low-fat' may not be the healthiest choice
Health organisations advocate the development of low-fat food products as part of the fight against obesity. But Kelly Geyskens' co-authored study shows that after the first low-fat purchase, consumption tends to increase. From a public policy perspective, the results suggest caution in promoting the switch to low-fat alternatives.
Blue skies or firm deliverables: can companies have both?
Many organisations rely on their employees' knowledge and experience to generate creative ideas for product, process, and other forms of innovation. Christoph Feichter and Alexander Brüggen's co-authored research shows that providing both input and output targets for regular tasks can lead to more effective blue-skies thinking.
European Network on Experimental Accounting Research (ENEAR), SBE, 5-6 July 2019
SBE, 5-6 July 2019
SBE was happy to welcome more than 50 participants from Australia, the U.S.A., China and from across Europe. Plenary speakers included Kristine Rennekamp from Cornell University and Andrew Newman from the University of South Carolina.
12th Maastricht Behavioral and Experimental Economics Symposium (M-BEES)
Maastricht University, 3 June 2019
M-BEES examines if and how economic experiments can inform economic theory and vice versa. Keynote speakers were David Laibson (Harvard University) and Elisabet Rutström (Georgia State University, Örebro University and Stockholm School of Economics).
5th Maastricht Behavioral Economic Policy Symposium (M-BEPS)
Maastricht University, 4 June 2019
M-BEPS brought together behavioral and experimental researchers from different disciplines as well as policy makers and practitioners interested in how behavioral economics can inform policies in government and business. Keynote speakers were Tim Cason (Purdue University) and Xavier Troussard (Head of the EU Policy Lab, European Commission).
First research retreat of the research theme Human Decisions and Policy Design
Heerlen, 9 November 2018
The research theme 'Human Decisions and Policy Design' organised a research retreat at the BISS Institute in Heerlen on 9 November 2018. Rudolf Müller welcomed the 34 participants and gave an overview of the current activities at BISS. The programme entailed 10 inspiring research presentations with constructive discussions, with topics ranging from sustainable investments to retirement planning, organ donation, healthy food choices, telecommuting, risk and uncertainty, intertemporal choices, incentives and governance.
Future-Proof Decision Making Symposium
SBE, Maastricht, 14 September 2018
Policy-makers and businesspeople from the Limburg region and beyond joined members of the HDPD research theme in an interactive event exploring the decisions that organisations and individuals make, and why they make them. Speakers included SBE professors Rob Bauer and Arno Riedl, associate professor Thomas Post, changemaker Vince Meens and management consultant Benedikt Stolze.The symposium was followed by the joint inaugural lectures of professors Lisa Brüggen and Alexander Brüggen.
11th Maastricht Behavioral and Experimental Economics Symposium (M-BEES)
Maastricht, 4 June 2018
Keynote speakers were Ernst Fehr (University of Zurich) and Rebecca Morton (New York University NYC and Abu Dhabi).
4th Maastricht Behavioral Economic Policy Symposium (M-BEPS)
Maastricht, 5 June 2018
Keynote speakers were Thomas Dirkmaat (Coordinator Behavioural Insights Team, Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs) and Uri Gneezy (University of California San Diego).
It’s not easy for the average consumer to make smart financial choices. Our brains are not financial calculators and often our intuition is at odds with the right options. We strive to better understand consumer financial decision-making (for example, the role of heuristics and emotions) and ultimately help people improve their financial well-being
Knowledge sharing provides many organisational benefits, but often employees are not prepared to share what they know because of the associated costs (including time and loss of expert power). Organisations are aware of its importance, but can struggle to provide the proper motivation. My research contributes to a better understanding of the organisational choices that can help or hinder knowledge sharing
Social preferences have a significant impact on how employees evaluate their remuneration. Workers care about more than just absolute payments, and unjustified wage differences can erode job satisfaction and motivation. Business leaders must take social preferences into account when designing payment schemes