- The Department
- Study Programmes
As in most robust sciences, theory and methodology are not static in economics. In recent years, two of the most important developments have been the infusion into economics of theories and concepts from related behavioural sciences (psychology and sociology) and biology (neurosciences, genetics, evolutionary models) together with the growth of experimental methods. Indeed the Nobel prizes awarded to Daniel Kahneman and Vernon Smith in 2002 emphasize these developments.
Faculty members of the Department are at the forefront of these movements. In addition to work that integrates psychological and neuroscience dimensions into economic theory, the Department also has a well-equipped experimental laboratory (LeeX) in which researchers can test existing and alternative theories of economics. Much of this work centres on issues in game theory and individual choice behaviour that lie at the heart of modern microeconomics. The work in this area also has a strong applied element. For example, policies for public health typically make strong behavioural assumptions about individual behaviour that are consistent with conventional economic theory. However, what if people's judgments and preferences do not comply with these assumptions? In addition, how should ethical considerations be taken into account when dealing with economic decisions? Finally, if people do not make decisions in accordance with canons of economic rationality, should one seek to "correct" their behaviour or, alternatively, is their behaviour telling us something about failures in the very concept of rationality itself?
Researchers in this group at UPF have received funding from Dirección General de Investigación Cientifíca y Técnica, EU-TMR Research Network, Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) and Generalitat de Catalunya. Their findings have been published, inter alia, in American Economic Review, Econometrica, Economic Journal, Games and Economic Behavior, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Economic Theory, Experimental Economics, Journal of Health Economics, Journal of Mathematical Psychology, Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Management Science, Psychological Bulletin, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Review of Economic Studies, Psychological Review, Quarterly Journal of Economics and Journal of Marketing Research.
Most of the faculty members in this group teach in core courses in UPF's undergraduate and graduate programmes and use experiments as a specific teaching tool. In several undergraduate courses, the methods of experimental economics are explicitly used to help students experience the effects of markets in ways that supplement traditional lectures and exercises. Courses on Experimental Economics and Behavioural Decision Making are also taught in the Graduate Program. Faculty members of the Department have also been active in different summers schools on experimental economics and bounded rationality.