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Objectives

Many questions from the economic and social sciences are perfectly suited to be analysed by combining experimental economics with neuroscientific methods. Economic research has shown that individual behaviour when faced with economic and social decisions cannot be explained solely by a rational trade-off between competing options, as suggested e.g. by classical game theory. Despite much progress in this field originating from economic research the neural basis for these intra- and inter-individual differences in behaviour are not known. By applying neuroimaging, we will try to more objectively measure "utility" in the brain. Genetics will help to discover the basis for inter-individual differences in behaviour and pharmacological interventions will enable us to discern intra-individual differences over time by manipulating specific neural circuits and systems, and examining the effects of substances on behaviour. In this context, we will pursue two major routes, one focussing on more practical business-related research questions, while the other is more focused on individual decision-making in a broader sense, closely related to microeconomic theories and models.

The subfield of neuroscience in business research will focus on the behaviour of consumers and the representation of goods which form the basis for decisions before, during and after purchases (Consumer Neuroscience). The focus on microeconomics will investigate the neurophysiological basis of more general social and economic behaviour.

The answers to these questions have a wide ranging and fundamental impact, because they help to explain the basis of human behaviour in societies. The major challenge in this novel research field is to integrate the expertise gathered over decades and even centuries of research from these fundamentally very different research areas, ranging from social psychology to economics and neuroscience. This can be best achieved in an interdisciplinary team of researchers who are all willing to accept the expertise from other disciplines and are open to new insights into their own fields.

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