AØKK08334U Foundations of Behavioural Economics
Why do people volunteer and donate to charitable causes? Why do we often eat unhealthy food, exercise too little, and struggle with completing important tasks in a timely manner? Why do most people think that they are better-than-average car drivers, entrepreneurs, lovers, ... ? From the perspective of conventional economic theory, these questions are difficult to answer. Behavioral Economics is an attempt to shed light on these and other puzzling phenomena. By enriching the traditional economic model with an empirically more accurate foundation of human behavior, Behavioral Economics aims at improving the predictive power of economic models and the resulting policy recommendations.
In this course, we will discuss the psychological foundations of human behavior and their economic implications. The course builds on the introductory course “Psychology of Choice” and lays the foundations for subsequent field courses in which insights from behavioral economics are applied to different areas of economic research (e.g., Behavioral Finance, Science of Behavior Change, or Behavioral Public Economics).
In the course, we will present the empirical regularities that have inspired the development of Behavioral Economics, analyze the key theoretical models that have been brought forward, and discuss a number of applications where insights from Behavioral Economics have contributed to a better understanding of individual behavior and market outcomes.
The course will focus on the following topics:
Fairness and Social Preferences
Reference-Dependent Preferences and Loss Aversion
Present-Biased Preferences and Limited Self Control
Limited Cognitive Resources and Attention
Behavioral Economics, Market Interactions, and Economic Policy
After completing the course the student is expected to be able to:
- Define core concepts to model social preferences, reference-dependent preferences, limited attention, and present bias.
- Account for the models’ central theoretical insights and implications.
- Critically discuss theoretical models and empirical research results in behavioral economics.
- Critically assess theoretical and empirical studies at the intersection of economics and psychology.
- Evaluate the results of these studies and identify limitations of the existing body of knowledge.
- Critically reflect how economic theory, lab and field experiments, and other complementary empirical methods can be used to address research questions in behavioral economics.
- Apply behavioral economic insights to theoretical problems and practical empirical questions.
- Initiate and implement first own research studies on behavioral economic topics.
The course will be based on lecture notes and research papers, as well as selected handbook chapters and survey articles. A detailed syllabus with required readings will be provided in the beginning of the course.
The following survey articles provide an excellent introduction to the literature.
Rabin, M. (1999). Psychology and Economics. Journal of Economic Literature, 36: 11-46.
DellaVigna, S. (2009). Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field. Journal of Economic Literature, 47: 315-372.
In particular, it is strongly recommended that Microeconomics III has been followed prior taking "Foundations of Behavioural Economics".
It is recommended that Econometrics II has been followed prior or at least in parallel with "Foundations of Behavioural Economics".
Ideally, students should also have attended the interdisciplinary course on “The Psychology of Choice”.
Student participation and an active discussion is expected and encouraged.
In case of a pandemic like Corona the teaching in this course may be changed to be taught either fully or partly online. For further information, see the course room on Absalon.
2 hours lectures 1 to 2 times a week from week 6 to 20 (except holidays).
The overall schema for the Master can be seen at KUnet:
MSc in Economics => "courses and teaching" => "Planning and overview" => "Your timetable"
KA i Økonomi => "Kurser og undervisning" => "Planlægning og overblik" => "Dit skema"
Timetable and venue:
To see the time and location of lectures please press the link under "Timetable"/"Se skema" at the right side of this page (F means Spring).
You can find the similar information in English at
-Select Department: “2200-Økonomisk Institut” (and wait for respond)
-Select Module:: “2200-F21; [Name of course]”
-Select Report Type: “List – Weekdays”
-Select Period: “Forår/Spring – Week 5-30”
Press: “ View Timetable”
The lecturer gives continuos oral feedback during practice sections and in-class questions that are discussed with students in the lectures.
For gæste- og enkelfagsstuderende: Tilmelding via Uddannelse i Økonomi.
- 7,5 ECTS
- Type of assessment
- Written examination, 3 hours under invigilationin the exam venues of the university.
The exam assignment is given in English and must be answered in English.
In the event that this summer's exams have to be conducted as online exams due to COVID-19, the exam form will be a 3 H take-home exam with aids. The reexam will be the same as the rescheduled ordinary exam, but possibly online orally if only few students register.
- Exam registration requirements
There are no requirements that the student has to fulfill during the course to be able to qualify for the exam.
- Without aids
for the written exam.
In case of an oral reexam, please go to the section "Reexam" for further information about allowed aids.
- Marking scale
- 7-point grading scale
- Censorship form
- No external censorship
for the written exam. The exam may be chosen for external censorship by random check.
- Exam period
The regular exam takes place:
21 June 2021
The exact time and room will be available in the Digital Exam from the middle of the semester.
In special cases, the exam can change to another day and time. In case of COVID-19 restrictions, please refer to the "Type of assessment" section.
The written reexam takes place:
25 August 2021
NOTE: If only few students register for the written re-exam, the re-exam might change to a 20 minutes oral examination without preparation time.
No aids allowed during the examination.
If changed to an oral re-exam, the exam date, time and place might change as well. The Examination's Office then informs the students by KU e-mail. In case of COVID-19 restrictions, please refer to the "Type of assessment" section.
Info is available in Digital Exam early August.
Criteria for exam assesment
Students are assessed on the extent to which they master the learning outcome for the course.
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 and can make use of the knowledge, skills and competencies listed in the learning outcomes.