Not available in 2019/20
PB415      Half Unit
Behavioural Science

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Paul Dolan QUE.3.08


This course is available on the MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MPA in Social Impact, MSc in Environmental Economics and Climate Change, MSc in Organisational and Social Psychology, MSc in Psychology of Economic Life, MSc in Social and Cultural Psychology and MSc in Social and Public Communication. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations and room sizes permit.

This is a capped course.  In teaching Week 1 places will be allocated to students from the Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science on a first come first served basis.  At the start of Week 2 any remaining places will be allocated to students from other departments, again on a first come first served basis.

Course content

This course aims to introduce students to the main concepts and tools of behavioural science. To achieve this aim, the course is based around ten lectures covering: 1) what is behavioural science?; 2) choices under risk and uncertainty; 3) intertemporal decisions; 4) social and moral preferences; 5) biases and heuristics and rules of thumb; 6) the role of emotions in decision making; 7) dual-process models of behaviour; 8) the power of nudges; 9) compensating behaviours; 10) ethical considerations.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the MT.

There are ten topics, and the seminars allow for in depth discussion and analysis of the issues raised in the lectures.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay (1000 words) in the MT.

Indicative reading

Rabin, M. (1998). Psychology and Economics. Journal of Economic Literature, 36, 11-46.

Weber, E.U., and Johnson, E.J. (2009). Mindful judgment and decision making. Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 53-85.

Loewenstein, G., Weber, E.U., Hsee, C.K., and Welch, N. (2001). Risk as feelings. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 267-286.

Dolan P, Hallsworth M, Halpern D, King D, Metcalfe R, Vlaev I, Influencing behaviour: the mindspace way, Journal of Economic Psychology, 33, 1, 264-277, 2012.

Thaler, R. and Sunstein, C. (2003) Libertarian paternalism, American Economic Review, 93, 2, 175-179.


Essay (100%, 2500 words) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: Social Psychology

Total students 2018/19: Unavailable

Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information