Decision-making and Behavioural Economics

Decision-making and Behavioural Economics Research Group

The group's research activities focus on:

  • Decisions that individuals make in various situations
  • Why these decisions are sometimes not consistent with standard models of rationality
  • What the outcomes of these decisions are.

For instance, how do people make choices about the food they eat and the exercise they do? Doctor Katy Tapper identifies variables that influence health-related behaviours and explores ways in which we might intervene to bring about change.

Other research in the department investigates judgments and decisions under conditions of risk, uncertainty and ambiguity (Professor Peter Ayton); personality neuroscience, individual differences in emotion/motivation and various experimental and applied economic behaviours (Professor Philip Corr) and financial decision making, including delay discounting, judgmental forecasting, behavioural game theory  and the psychology of taxation (Doctor Stian Reimers).

This research often shows that people do not behave according to the rationality assumptions of neoclassical economics.

When can we say that a person is behaving rationally? In the famous Linda problem, participants consider more probable the statement that Linda is a bank teller and a feminist, than she is just a bank teller (the conjunction fallacy). Is this irrational behaviour? Standard approaches to rationality are based on classical probability theory. Doctor Emmanuel Pothos explores the extent to which an alternative system for probability, quantum probability theory, could provide a descriptive model for human decision making, as well as a normative model for human rationality.

Other research in the department looks at the outcome of choices. How do choices about work, family, finances and other areas of life affect how satisfied individuals are with their lives? Drawing on theories and methods from psychology, economics and sociology Doctor Anke Plagnol investigates how such choices affect individuals' subjective wellbeing.

These and related research questions are investigated by researchers in the group using a variety of empirical methods, including laboratory experiments, field studies, surveys, online experiments and secondary data analysis.

Selected Achievements

Professor Philip Corr has founded the behavioural economics spinout company Behavioural Fusion. Prior to his, Philip served as President (2015-2017) of the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences (ISSID).

Selected grants

Selected papers

Philip J. Corr and Anke C. Plagnol. Behavioral Economics - The basics. Routledge (2018).

Vanessa Gash and Anke C. Plagnol. "The partner pay gap – Associations between spouses' relative earnings and life satisfaction among couples in the UK". Work, Employment and Society (online first, 2020).

Lucía Macchia, Anke C. Plagnol and Nattavudh Powdthavee. "Buying happiness in an unequal world: Rank of income more strongly predicts well-being in more unequal countries". Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 46(5), pp. 769-780 (2020).

Nattavudh Powdthavee, Anke C. Plagnol, Paul Frijters and Andrew E. Clark. "Who got the Brexit Blues? The effect of Brexit on subjective wellbeing in the UK". Economica. 86(343), pp. 471-494 (2019).

Jennifer Gerson, Anke C. Plagnol and Philip J. Corr. "Passive and Active Facebook Use Measure (PAUM): Validation and relationship to the Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory". Personality and Individual Differences. 117, pp. 81-90 (2017).

Jennifer Gerson, Anke C. Plagnol and Philip J. Corr. "Subjective well-being and social media use: Do personality traits moderate the impact of social comparison on Facebook?". Computers in Human Behavior. 63, pp. 813-822 (2016).


Related modules

  • PS3012 Health Psychology (Doctor Katy Tapper)
  • PS3003 Judgement and Decision Making (Doctor Stian Reimers)
  • Modules offered on the MSc Behavioural Economics