This course will explore ways to integrate insights from psychology to build richer economic models. We will formalize models that capture key biases, beliefs, preferences, or traits, so that we can explore their potential economic ramifications. We will review the evidence in the lab or field for these models, and in the process explore how to measure beliefs and preferences, as well as the numerous challenges in doing so.
Unlike in previous years, the focus this year will be on designing simulations, surveys, and experiments to explore, understand, and improve the models we see. You will design surveys and experiments that we will run on simulated agents (if the required software is up to the task by then); on other students who are taking this class; and if I can get funding for it, on small groups of online participants. The experiments you will design will replicate, and if possible, extend beyond existing experiments. This will provide you with the full lifecycle of running an experiment, which also provides you with a better understanding of the models and psychology being studied. At the end of the course, we will hopefully have a joint paper that – while certainly not earth-shattering – will synthesize the topics we covered and provide you with a glimpse into research-level economics. At the same time, the skills for running a successful online survey or experiment are useful skills outside of academic research, including in policy and business.
By the end of the course, students will
- learn how to extend the classical economic framework by formally modeling insights from psychology;
- learn how these models affect decisions across various economic settings, and how to test them and measure their impact;
- be exposed to (a small subset of) the frontier of research on beliefs in behavioral economics;
- learn how to replicate and judge economic experiments, how to interpret and how not to interpret results in the literature; and
- learn to work in small groups, how to provide and receive feedback from teammates.
Assessment will have to be finalized. It will likely consist of a mixture of the following:
- Short quizzes
- One (or several) experimental designs. These will be partially graded by me, but to a larger extent by other participants in the class. Since the goal is to improve our joint experiments, this should occur with the spirit of trying to improve the designs, and provide time to fix them.
- Participation in class, in discussions, and in providing feedback to others.
An advanced course in microeconomic theory, a course in statistics or data analysis