AØKK08129U  Seminar: Behavioral Economics in Action

Volume 2017/2018

MSc programme in Economics

The seminar is primarily for students at the MSc of Economics


Over the last 30 years, psychologists and economists have gained a deeper understanding of what motivates people, how they process information, and what non-economic features of the choice environment influence decisions. This seminar builds on this recent work of behavioral economics and allows the student to develop a hands-on approach and use behavioral economics to change people behavior. Emphasis will be on presenting and discussing specific topics in this literature: for instance, applications on health, education, dishonesty, environment, charitable giving, voting, saving and spending.

Learning Outcome

After completing the course, the student should be able to:


  • review the most recent findings of behavioral economics and how to apply them to public policy.



  • identify the causes of a specific irrational behavior and analyze the consequences of this behavior for the society.



  • design (or conduct) experiments and policy interventions aiming at ameliorate societal well-being and improve people’s life.

Books (some more technical than others):

Ariely, D. (2010). The upside of irrationality.

Cialdini, R. B. (2006). Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

List, J., & Gneezy, U. (2014). The why axis: Hidden motives and the undiscovered economics of everyday life.

Dhami, S. (2016). The Foundations of Behavioral Economic Analysis.

Kling, J. R., Congdon, W. J., & Mullainathan, S. (2011). Policy and choice: public finance through the lens of behavioral economics.

Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow.

Thaler, R. H., & Sunstein, C. R. (2008). Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness.


Ly, K., Mazar, N., Zhao, M., Soman, D.; (2013) A Practitioner's Guide to Nudging; Research Report Series, Rotman School of Management.

Madrian Brigitte C. (2014) Applying Insights from Behavioral Economics to Policy Design. Annu. Rev. Econ. 2014. 6:30.1–30.26

Egan M. (2013) Nudge Database. Stirling Behavioural Science Blog.

Note: More specific papers will be suggested once the students have decided the topic of their seminar paper.

It is recommended to have followed the course Science of Behavior Change before or at the same time as the seminar.
The student should have a sound knowledge of Behavioral and Experimental Economics.
The students should also have a basic knowledge of microeconomics, statistics and econometrics (basic courses taught at BA level).
Planning/start-up meeting, research and writing process of the seminar paper, sessions with presentation of own paper and critical evaluation/feedback to another student´s paper, actively participating in discussions at class.

Before the session a "so-finalized-as-possible"-draft of the paper must be uploaded in Absalon. After the presentations, the student submit an edited version of the paper in the Digital Exam portal as the final exam paper. The aim is that students use the presentation sessions as an opportunity to receive and use the constructive feedback to improve the paper.

- Planning meeting: September 8, 2017, from 13:00 to 15:00
- Deadline of commitment paper: not later than October 1 at 10 AM
- Deadline of pre-paper upload in Absalon: A week before the presentations
- Presentations/Workshops: November 21-23

Students have the possibility to attend a weekly meeting where they can interact with other students and scholars interested in behavioral economics (more info here: https:/​/​sites.google.com/​site/​tribecopenhagen).
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
- a seminar paper in English that meets the formal requirements for written papers stated in the curriculum and at KUNet for seminars.
Exam registration requirements

Attendance in all activities at the seminar as stated in the formal requrements in the Curriculum and at the KUnet for seminars (UK) and Kunet for seminars (DK).

All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Exam period

Deadline for uploading the seminar paper to DE: 1st of December 2017 before 10:00 AM

For enrolled students more information about examination, rules, exam schedule etc. is available at the intranet for master students (UK) and  master students (DK)


A written paper as stated in the  Master curriculum and at the KUnet for seminars for master students (UK) and master students (DK). 

Criteria for exam assesment

The student must in a satisfactory way demonstrate that he/she has mastered the learning outcome of the course and the objectives stated in the Curriculum.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Seminar
  • 20
  • Project work
  • 186
  • Total
  • 206