The Behavioural Economics Team (BET) has recently been established in the Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (IHCP). The aim of the BET is to provide evidence-based support to policies of the European Union that seek to bring about changes in behaviour. The activities will provide a deeper understanding of people's response to soft (nudges, prompts, incentives) and hard (regulation) policy interventions across a range of thematic areas.
The BET provides an interface between the research community and EU policy formulation frameworks, by providing impartial scientific advice to European Commission Services, EU Institutions and EU Member States in the field of behavioural sciences. The BET collaborates very closely with JRC's Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) in Seville, the Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen (IPSC), and the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers (DG SANCO) in Brussels.
Behavioural Economics (BE) essentially studies the effects of social, cognitive and emotional factors on the economic decisions of individuals and institutions and the consequences for market prices, returns, resource allocations and public policy. Using experimental and advanced empirical techniques, BE identifies individual and group behaviours and social phenomena that are not adequately explained by traditional economical analysis. As a result, new models can be developed that are better able to explain "irrational" economic behaviour. These models draw on the basic principles of game theory and incorporate aspects of emotions, reciprocity, fairness, social capital, bounded rationality, etc. BE is cross-disciplinary by its nature as it combines research findings across a wide range of scientific fields including psychology, sociology, medicine, and neuroscience.
Image: Symbolic image - mind and behaviour. Copyright EU 2012.