Behavior Change - Applied Behavioral Economics

Over the last 30 years, behavioral scientists have gained a deeper understanding of what motivates people, how they process information, and what non-economic features of the choice environment influence decisions. Many of their insights challenge traditional assumptions such as rationality, self-interest and time consistency. This research program called “Behavioral Economics” has shed light on how people’s decisions deviate from “optimal” choices as well as the consequences of such deviations.

How can we use this knowledge? How can we get people to save more money, have a better education, work harder, save energy, engage in healthy behaviors, and more generally make better choices?

This course will give you a hands-on approach on behavioral change by learning and applying the methods of behavioral economics to policy. We will review research on human decision making from psychology, political science, organizational behavior and economics and we will look for easy‐to‐implement solutions. At the end of this course, you will be able to identify human biases and creatively design behavioral interventions, policies or products that help people make better decisions.


During the course, you will review the most recent developments and theories of human decision-making, you will analyze the tools of behavioral science and you will compare their effectiveness to change specific behaviors. Together we will reflect on how experiments and randomized controlled trials work and why this methodology is critical for making inference about causal relationships.

In class, we will debate and discuss critically several interventions that have been conducted to change people’s behavior in the domain of energy efficiency, health, charitable giving, education, saving and discrimination. By completing the course, you will be able to examine (real-world) cases where people make ”bad” decisions, identify the consequences of this irrational behavior for the individual and the society, design behavioral interventions and run controlled experiments to evaluate their efficacy.



Behavioral economics has identified a range of biases as a result of the way people think and feel. According to behavioral economics, people are not always patient, consistent and forward looking: our thinking is subject to impulsivity, lack of processing capability and is often affected by the context in which we make decisions. We are influenced by emotions, visceral urges and impulses and we often regret the decisions we make. Finally, the power of social norms and our desire to conform make non optimal behavior contagious and socially approved.

Core elements:

    • Thorough introduction to the heuristics (mental shortcut to solve problems and make judgments quickly) and cognitive biases
    • Examples of bad decisions in our daily life and discussion on the drivers of human “irrationality”
    • Self-control problems: lack of patience, impulsivity, weak willpower, present bias, procrastination, and time inconsistency.
    • Strategies for reducing failures of self-control: self-deployed vs. other-deployed strategies and, situational vs. cognitive intervention targets.
    • Monetary and non-monetary incentives: the role of intrinsic motivations, social signals, size and framing of incentives.
    • Introduction to behavioral insights as a set of new tools to close the intention-action gap.

Introduction how to run experiments to test the efficacy of behavioral interventions

Advanced topics (depending on participants’ interests): 

    • Specific applications and concrete examples of behavioral analysis applied to real-world problems.

During the course, participants have the opportunity to present and (try to) solve a challenge they face in their work and organization. We will brainstorm on the causes of the behavior we wish to change and work together on specific solutions based on the material presented during the course.



The course is for professionals who need state-of-the art knowledge on behavioral economics. Participants should be able to read scientific papers and have some basic knowledge of microeconomics and statistics/econometrics.

Participants will have the opportunity of refreshing their knowledge of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, using the course material, which will be made available to participants before the start of the course.




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Course directors

Course information – Behavior Change

Duration 5 days
Dates and times: August 22-26, 2022, 9 am - 4:30 am
Price: EUR 2,755 (DKK 20,500) (VAT exempt). The price includes tuition, course material and all meals during course hours.
Language: English
Location: South Campus, Faculty of Law, Njalsgade 76, DK-2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark
Registration deadline: May 31, 2022
Contact: Copenhagen Summer University
+45 3533 3423