Misbehaving: the making of behavioural economics

Hosted by Behavioural Research Lab

Old Theatre,


Professor Richard H Thaler


Professor Craig Calhoun

Richard Thaler, described by The Spectator as ‘the godfather of behavioural economics’, will be in conversation with LSE Director Craig Calhoun about his book Misbehaving, an authoritative and entertaining history of behavioural economics.

Richard Thaler has spent his career studying the radical notion that the central agents in the economy are humans—predictable, error-prone individuals. Traditional economics assumes rational actors. Early in his research, Thaler realized these Spock-like automatons were nothing like real people. Whether buying an alarm clock, selling football tickets, or applying for a mortgage, we all succumb to biases and make decisions that deviate from the standards of rationality assumed by economists. In other words, we misbehave. Dismissed at first by economists as an amusing sideshow, the study of human miscalculations and their effects on markets now drives efforts to make better decisions in our lives, our businesses, and our governments.

Coupling recent discoveries in human psychology with a practical understanding of incentives and market behaviour, Thaler enlightens readers about how to make smarter decisions in an increasingly mystifying world, revealing how behavioural economic analysis opens up new ways to look at everything. Laced with antic stories of Thaler’s spirited battles with the bastions of traditional economic thinking, Misbehaving is a singular look into profound human foibles. When economics meets psychology, the implications for individuals, managers, and policy makers are both profound and entertaining.

Richard H. Thaler (@R_Thaler) is the Ralph and Dorothy Keller Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioural Science and Economics and the director of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He is co-the author of Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness and has worked in the US with Barack Obama and with David Cameron's 'Nudge Unit' in the UK.

Craig Calhoun (@craigjcalhoun) is Director and President of LSE. He is a world-renowned social scientist whose work connects sociology to culture, communication, politics, philosophy and economics.  

The Behavioural Research Lab (@LSEBehavioural) is a purpose-built facility set up by the Department of Management (@LSEManagement) for the use of researchers examining organisational behaviour and decision making. The BRL’s state-of-the-art facilities include 20 workstations for individual computer-mediated studies and four bespoke discussion rooms with built-in audio-visual equipment for studies in social dynamics. Since its opening in 2011, over 18000 participants have taken part in more than 120 studies.  The BRL caters to researchers across LSE, including Management, Economics, Geography/Grantham Institute, Philosophy, Social Policy, Social Psychology and Government, and offers a large diverse participant pool to its researchers.

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