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Behavioral science describes the study of human behavior through the use of systematic experimentation and observation. Behavioral scientists study when and why individuals engage in specific behaviors by experimentally examining the impact of factors such as conscious thoughts, motivation, social influences, contextual effects, and habits. Several disciplines fall under the broad label of behavioral science, including:

  • Anthropology
  • Behavioral economics
  • Cognitive psychology
  • Consumer behavior
  • Social psychology
  • Sociology

In order to understand the full complexity of human behavior, some behavioral scientists synthesize theories, concepts, and methodologies across some of these disciplines. For example, the field of behavioral economics emerges from bringing insights from psychology to bear on economic behavior, thereby predicting and explaining behavior that is not anticipated by standard economic theories.

Behavioral science research is diverse and expansive. Behavioral scientists study why humans sometimes behave in a way that may not maximize their own well-being, such as making choices in the present that do not maximize their happiness in the future; examine how seemingly arbitrary contextual factors influence our decisions, beliefs, and attitudes; test how different incentives affect people’s motivation and behavior; analyze how people judge others’ traits and characteristics based on features of their face or voice; investigate how consumers can be encouraged to make, avoid, or change spending decisions; and design policy interventions that can help people make choices that they would personally recognize as optimal in the long run.

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Booth and Behavioral Science

Chicago Booth is a powerhouse in the emerging field of behavioral science. Booth’s curriculum brings together theory and research from psychology, sociology, economics, and related fields to study human behavior in managerial contexts—how people use information, make decisions, and leverage human capital to make things happen.

This fascinating video, “How to Spot a Lie,” shows a recreation of a behavioral science study administered by Nicholas Epley, the John Templeton Keller Professor of Behavioral Science and a Neubauer Family Faculty Fellow at Chicago Booth.

In the video, participants try to determine whether or not others are telling the truth on the basis of speech patterns and visual cues. They ultimately realize that collaborative work improves their ability to distinguish truth from lies.

Booth and Behavioral Science

PIMCO Decision Research Laboratories

In fall 2018, PIMCO and the Center for Decision Research announced a partnership in support of the CDR’s behavioral science research. In recognition of this investment in research, Chicago Booth’s CDR laboratories were renamed the PIMCO Decision Research Laboratories. The PIMCO Decision Research Laboratories will yield scientific discoveries with the potential to improve individual and social welfare.

Mindworks is home to the CDR’s PIMCO Decision Research Labs and aims to foster greater engagement with the public, broaden the CDR’s reach, and increase the diversity of participants in studies.

Research with Impact

Discover behavioral science insights from Booth faculty.

Learn More about Behavioral Science at Booth

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Get information about upcoming events, programs, and behavioral science research from Mindworks.

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