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Behavioural Economics

Organisational unit: Research Group

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The Behavioural Economics group is a pioneer of experimental and behavioural economics and are ranked 4th in the world in cognitive and behavioural economics. Members of our group developed some of the earliest behavioural theories of choice under risk and uncertainty, and ran some of the UK's first economics experiments. UEA has been a noted leading centre of experimental economics since the 1980s. In most recent rankings of economics departments published at econphd.net UEA ranked fifth in the world and first in the UK for ‘decision theory/experiments'. 


Current research includes focal points and salience, bargaining, the nature of other-regarding preferences - both social and antisocial, contests and competitiveness, and public goods provision. There is currently strong UK and international interest in policy-making circles to incorporate insights of behavioural and experimental economics into policy design. Our group's strengths in measurement of preferences and valuations, and by extension cost-benefit analysis, have already tailored solutions to major domestic institutions such in the UK Departments for Health, Transport and Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. 


Interdisciplinarity is one of the keys to our research success. Collaboration with researchers in other Schools is facilitated by the Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) - a cross-disciplinary centre of researchers who develop and test models of human behaviour and deduce implications for the formulation and evaluation of public policy. CBESS research informs policy and business strategies - including "nudging", utility tariff design, product labelling, and indebtedness. 


The group is renowned for agenda-setting contributions in areas such as modelling and measurement of preferences, and fertilises policy formation by its findings on how people perceive complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity. These issues interweave dynamically with this group's historical research strengths (e.g. Professor Robert Sugden and colleagues used stated-preference methods to estimate valuations for quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence - QALYs being a key component in conducting cost-benefit analyses of new treatment options for diseases).


Through CBESS the Behavioural Economics group is a founding member of the ESRC Network for Integrated Behavioural Science (NIBS) whose Advisory Group includes representatives from users in business, industry, media, and government.

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