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Studies and Courses

The experimental group offers a large number courses and seminars in behavioral and experimental economics and finance within the Alfred-Weber-Institute’s Bachelor and Master programs. Selecting these courses within the several elective modules in both programs allows students to complete a Bachelor or Master degree with a strong emphasis on behavioral economics. This page gives an (incomplete) overview of courses offered in recent years. For more information refer to people’s personal websites and to the University of Heidelberg’s economics studies pages. Members of the experimental economics group also supervise Bachelor and Master theses on a large range of behavioral topics.

Behavioral Macroeconomics (Bachelor)

Taught by Joep Lustenhouwer

In most advanced macroeconomics research and courses, a crucial role is played by the rational expectations hypothesis. In this behavioral course we replace this assumption by alternative assumptions of how people form expectations. The course introduces a dynamic version of the basic model studied in macro economics courses, and then considers the role of expectations in the IS-LM model. The main focus of the course is on modeling market participants that switch between simple rules of thumb to form expectations, based on the past performance of these rules. (link to course)

Behavioral Finance (Bachelor)

Taught by Stefan Trautmann

The course provides a broad overview of the field of behavioral finance. It introduces relevant psychological foundations, and applies these to explain market anomalies (investor behavior), financial behavior of consumers (household finance), and behavior of managers (behavioral corporate finance). The course follows the textbook by Ackert and Deaves, with additional research articles assigned for each week. (link to course)

Experimental and Behavioral Economics (Bachelor)

Taught by Arjun Sengupta

The purpose of the course is to introduce students to experimental methodology in economics and to some of the important subject areas that have been addressed by experiments. It covers methodological topics that teach students to design, conduct, analyze, and present a lab or field experiment. Students also learn what economists have uncovered about human behavior using experimental methods and how these insights have shaped public policies. (link to course)

Cognitive Load and Economic Decisions (Bachelor)

Taught by Andis Sofianos

This seminar will review the experimental economics literature that involves loading the cognition of participants. The fact that individuals have limited cognitive capacities is well established in psychology. How these limitations can hinder decision making in various contexts is of interest for economistst as well. To study this, experiments will typically load the cognition of participants and then study their economic behavior. There is a wide range of studies that look into how loading the cognition of individuals affects decisions and choices across various contexts including choice under uncertainty, intertemporal choices, generosity, cooperation and coordination. (link to course)

Advanced Experimental Economics (Master)

Taught by Christiane Schwieren

This course links issues of game theory, decision theory, industrial organization, institutional design and macroeconomics with behavioral and experimental economics and neuro-economics. Students will read and discuss experimental and behavioral economics literature with the aim to identify relevant and novel research questions, which they will then try to answer with an original experimental design. These experiments will be run in class, with motivation and results summarized in a research paper. Students will also participate as subjects in experiments. At the end of the term, experiments run by the participants will be presented in a „poster-conference.“ (link to course)

Measurement of Economic Preferences and Expectations (Master)

Taught by Stefan Trautmann

Economic theories predict that financial decisions depend on consumers’ preferences and expectations. For example, the decision to purchase an annuity product depends on the consumer’s risk attitude, her time preference, and her beliefs about her longevity. In this course we will study methods to elicit such attitudes and beliefs. Topics covered include the measurement of risk attitude, higher order risk attitudes, ambiguity attitude, time preferences, and social preferences where relevant to financial decisions. While the focus of the course is on empirical measurement, decision theories will be introduced where they relate to measurement issues (such as in the measurement of prospect theory parameters, discounting models or precautionary saving). (link to course)

Experimental Methods in Environmental Economics (Master)

Taught by Anca Balietti

Experimental methods in environmental economics are considered to be instrumental in understanding the link between the incentives that individuals’ or firms’ face and their subsequent choices. In a randomized controlled setting, lab and field experiments aim to provide causal evidence and reliable estimates of policy impacts, of high importance when assessing the success of environmental policies. This seminar focuses on field and lab experimental methods in environmental economics. Students review the economic literature on a selected topic and prepare a research paper that summarizes the current state of knowledge. (link to course)

Decision Making under Uncertainty (Master)

Taught by Jürgen Eichberger and Christopher Kops

The theoretical analysis of decision making under uncertainty is a fundamental part of economic theory. The leading paradigm of expected utility, however, has been challenged by behavioural inconsistencies. The seminar will deal with the most important alternative decision rules. The reading course will review traditional views about decision making under ambiguity. Beginning with the special case of neo-additive beliefs, the seminar papers will then review the most popular alternative representations. (link to course)

Behavioral Game Theory (Master, Research Master)

Taught by Jörg Oechssler (jointly in the University of Heidelberg Msc. program and the University of Mannheim research master program in economics)

The course introduces the recent literature on behavioral game theory and learning: Information Cascades, Quantal-response equilibrium, Level-k theories, Fictious Play, Reinforcement Learning, Experience weighted attraction learning, and Imitation. After succesful completion of the module, students will be able to read and understand the literature on learning in games. They will have acquired necessary theoretical and experimental tools to pursue independent doctoral research in behavioral game theory. (link to course, E877)

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