July 26, 2015

Richard Thaler: Misbehaving - the making of behavioural economics

Recorded on 9 June 2015 at Old Theatre, Old Building

Richard Thaler has spent his career studying the radical notion that the central agents in the economy are humans—predictable, error-prone individuals. Traditional economics assumes rational actors. Early in his research, Thaler realized these Spock-like automatons were nothing like real people. Whether buying an alarm clock, selling football tickets, or applying for a mortgage, we all succumb to biases and make decisions that deviate from the standards of rationality assumed by economists. In other words, we misbehave. Dismissed at first by economists as an amusing sideshow, the study of human miscalculations and their effects on markets now drives efforts to make better decisions in our lives, our businesses, and our governments.

Speaking about his latest book Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioural Economics, Richard Thaler will couple recent discoveries in human psychology with a practical understanding of incentives and market behaviour. Thaler will explain how to make smarter decisions in an increasingly mystifying world, revealing how behavioural economic analysis opens up new ways to look at everything.

Richard H Thaler (@R_Thaler) is the Ralph and Dorothy Keller Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioural Science and Economics and the Director of the Center for Decision Research at the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business. He is co-the author of Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness and has worked in the US with Barack Obama and with David Cameron's 'Nudge Unit' in the UK.