AØKK08129U  Seminar: Behavioral Economics in Action

Volume 2018/2019

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

Additional for the learning outcome specified in the Curriculum, the student should after completing the seminar 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.

BSc in Economics or similar
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 the BA level of Economics).
Kick-off meeting, research and writing process of the seminar project paper, presentation of own project, constructive feedback to another student´s project and actively participating in discussions at class.

The aim of the presentations is, that the student, who presents, uses the presentation as an opportunity to practice oral presentations skills and to receive feedback improving the seminar project.

It is strongly recommended that you start your search for a topic before the semester begins, as there is only a limited amount of weeks from the kick-off meeting to the first submission.

Before the presentations, your largely finished version of the seminar project paper must be uploaded in Absalon, as the opponents and the other seminar participants have to read and comment on the paper. It is important that you upload a nearly finished project due to the fact that the value of feedback and comments at the presentation is strongly associated with the skill of the seminar project paper.

After the presentations, you can make a light correction of the seminar project to include the feedback and comments emerged during the presentations. It is NOT intended that you rewrite or begin the writing of the full project AFTER the presentation has taken place.

The seminar project paper must be uploaded in the Digital Exam portal for assessment with in the deadline announced under Exam.
Autumn 2018:
• Kick-off meeting: September 3, 2018, 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 19-21

Extra days of teaching/supervision: 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).

Spring 2019:
• Kick-off meeting: February 5 2019, from 13:00 to 15:00
• Deadline of commitment paper: March 1, 2019 at 10 AM
• Deadline of pre-paper upload in Absalon: A week before the presentations
• Presentations/Workshops: May 22-24, 2019

Extra days of teaching/supervision: 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  Seminars (DK)  is required to participate in the exam.


All aids allowed

for the project paper.

The supervisor defines the aids that must be used for the presentations.


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

Autumn semester 2018:

Deadline for uploading the final seminar paper: November 30 2018 before 10 AM


Spring 2019:

Deadline for uploading the final seminar paper: June 3, 2019 before 10 AM


Exam information:

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



Reexam information:

The reexam is a written paper as stated in the Curriculum.

Deadline and more information is available at Seminars (UK) and Seminars (DK).

More information about reexam etc is available at Master (UK)andMaster (DK).

Criteria for exam assesment

Students are assessed on the extent to which they master the learning outcome for the seminar and can make use of the knowledge, skills and competencies listed in the learning outcomes in the Curriculum of the Master programme.

To receive the top grade, the student must with no or only a few minor weaknesses be able to demonstrate an excellent performance displaying a high level of command of all aspects of the relevant material.

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