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These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Economics (ECON)

ECON 411W Behavioral Economics (3) Topics in behavioral economics; selected games; evolutionary models of social behavior; culture and social behavior; herding; overconfidence.

ECON 411W Behavioral Economics (3)

Behavioral economics examines recent evidence from experiments that seems to violate the hypotheses of economic rationality in traditional microeconomic theory. The course considers, among others, the following three topics: (1) Altruism in human behavior, as demonstrated, for example, in public goods experiments where people typically contribute some positive amount, even with the individually optimal strategy being to contribute nothing. (2) The prevalence of co-operative behavior in societies, which seems essential to their functioning, but which is hard (but not impossible) to explain on the basis of the actions of purely self-interested individuals. (3) Fairness in distribution: for example, people do not try to extract everything that their partners or opponents can give even when they are in a position of power (as in being the proposer of a take-it-or-leave-it offer).

Students play some well-known games with each other to generate examples of their own behavior in multi-person interaction contexts; the results of the games are analyzed to detect regularities in the observed behavior; and the class discusses possible explanations drawn from economics, evolutionary biology and psychology as to why people (specifically the students) played the way they did in these games.

Overall, then, students will learn about various aspects of behavioral economics, including several games and evolutionary models of social behavior, and how these aspects square with conventional economic theory. Students will develop the skill of analyzing behavior from a behavioral economics perspective.

This course is a 400-level seminar, part of the Economics Department's offerings, many of them writing-intensive, for our advanced students in each of seven broad areas of economics. This writing-intensive seminar is in the area of microeconomic theory. The course will count toward both the major and the minor in economics.


General Education: None
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Summer 2008
Prerequisite: ECON 402 orECON 444

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.

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