Applying Behavioral Insights and Behavioral Economics

Professors: Grant/Linnemayr
Units: 1.0
Elective Course
Concentrations: Economic Analysis and Social Science

Policy design often does not adequately consider the way people actually think and behave. Namely, individuals and groups frequently do not conform to predictions derived from classical rational models of human behavior. An active area of research is the development of methods and approaches to policy design that incorporate more accurate models of human behavior, such as in the growing field of behavioral economics that in turn draws from psychology and other behavioral sciences.

This course aims to teach students how to apply these insights from behavioral sciences when designing policy solutions for important societal issues. The course will begin with a review of trans-disciplinary conceptual frameworks for applying behavioral insights during policy design. The course will then focus on case studies across policy sectors (e.g., education, environment, health, labor, security) in which these frameworks have been applied by prominent policy organizations (e.g., White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team, UK Behavioral Insights Team). In the second half of the course, each student will write and present a brief grant proposal (tailored to the NIH Science of Behavior Change program) to develop and evaluate a policy solution for a topic of their choosing.