Research institutes

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 


12th Maastricht Behavioral and Experimental Economics Symposium (M-BEES, 3 June 2019) and 5th Maastricht Behavioral Economic Policy Symposium (M-BEPS, 4 June 2019)
The broad topic of M-BEES is Theory and Experiments. M-BEES centers around the question if and how economic experiments can inform economic theory and vice versa.

Keynote speakers M-BEES:
- David Laibson (Harvard University)
- Elisabet Rutström (Georgia State University, Örebro University and Stockholm School of Economics)

M-BEPS brings 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. The goal of M-BEPS is to encourage the discussion of relevant policy topics and the exchange among European policy makers, international researchers, and practitioners.

Keynote speakers M-BEPS:
- Tim Cason (Purdue University)
- Xavier Troussard (Head of the EU Policy Lab, European Commission)


Past Events

First research retreat of the research theme Human Decisions and Policy Design, 9 November 2018, BISS Institute, Heerlen
The research theme “Human Decisions and Policy Design” organized 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. Peter Verkoulen, CEO of the Brightlands Smart Services Campus gave us a guided tour on campus. Wiebke Eberhardt and Mark Graus illustrated the collaborative research opportunities at BISS through a joint presentation with APG’s innovation hub “GroeiFabriek”. At the end of the day, we discussed the potential next steps to foster the exchange within several key areas of the HDPD theme and to start exciting new joint research projects.

Future-Proof Decision Making Symposium, 14 September 2018, School of Business and Economics, Maastricht
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), 4 June 2018
Keynote speakers:
- Ernst Fehr (University of Zurich)
- Rebecca Morton (New York University NYC and Abu Dhabi)

4th Maastricht Behavioral Economic Policy Symposium (M-BEPS), 5 June 2018
Keynote speakers:
- Thomas Dirkmaat (Coordinator Behavioural Insights Team, Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs)
- Uri Gneezy (University of California San Diego)