This course examines fundamental theories and research findings on rational choice, drawing on research conducted by psychologists, economists, and biologists. We will compare basic principles of rationality with actual choice behavior and illustrate how the way that we think about decision problems systematically deviates from rationality. We will also discuss factors that underlie systematic biases in human decision-making and “irrational” behavior (including emotions and social aspects), “nudges” that utilize characteristics of the human choice architecture, and applications of JDM theories and results in various fields. Studying the principles of rational decision-making and systematic discrepancies with actual behavior is not only fascinating, but it is also actually practically useful, as it can help us to improve the quality of choices in our daily lives. Assessments include weekly reaction papers on the required reading, student presentations, and a final essay.
This course is cross-listed with PSYC485