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Behavioural Economics: Polarisation, Discrimination, and differences in society

Learn how methods from game theory and behavioural economics can combat polarisation and discrimination within society.

Behavioural Economics

Behavioural Economics: Polarisation, Discrimination, and differences in society

  • 3 weeks

  • 2 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

Discover behavioural economics with Nottingham Business School

From poverty to climate change, many of the most complex societal challenges involve human decision-making. Behavioural economics is focused on supporting policy-makers and organisations to design solutions to these problems by positively influencing human behaviour.

On this three-week course from Nottingham Business School, you’ll delve into the theory and practice of behavioural economics.

With a focus on behavioural biases and discrimination, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of why people make the choices they do and how their behaviour can be influenced for the good of society.

Get to grips with game theory and economic methods

One of the most useful tools for analysing human behaviour is game theory. Throughout the course, you’ll learn how game theory can be used to predict, analyse, and influence consumer and organisational behaviour.

You’ll also develop your understanding of wider economic theories, methods, and analytical concepts.

Explore the ethics of behavioural economics

The application of behavioural economics to influence use behaviour raises important ethical questions.

You’ll discuss and debate the implications of applying behavioural insights in different contexts, from business and marketing to politics, advocacy, and beyond.

With the insights you gain over the three weeks of the course, you’ll be equipped to design game-changing policies, campaigns, and business solutions.

Skip to 0 minutes and 0 seconds Hello and welcome to the short course of Behavioural and Experimental Economics. We will have a special look at polarisation. My name is Thorsten Chmura and I’m the director for the Centre of Behavioural Sciences at Nottingham Trent University. I’m here with my colleagues. Hi, I’m Ludovica Orlandi and I’m a research fellow in the Centre for Behavioural Sciences. Hi, I’m Lerato Dixon. I’m a lecturer at Nottingham Business School and also do research for the Centre of Behavioural Sciences.

Skip to 0 minutes and 27 seconds All of us are working together in different fields and different projects so we know each other quite well and this is why we think since we like to enjoy working with each other, that you might have a little benefit from this as well, and that you might enjoy the topics. We have chosen, the topic of polarisation and of discrimination, because it’s a very interesting topic and we see this arising at the workplace in your daily lives and when countries interact with each other, when we have biases in stereotypical thinking.

Skip to 1 minute and 2 seconds The way we measure this is with behaviour economics experiments, and through the three weeks you will learn roughly some of these tests and games, how we call them, how you could apply and use them. We’re going to look at how we can apply what we have learned to study, for example, conflict within countries, particularly in particular country divides that are rooted in cultural, religious, regional and ethnic differences. As an example, the division between West and East of Germany, where the two parts of the country are characterised by cultural difference and economic differences or differences between North and South of Italy, where regional differences characterise the two areas.

Skip to 1 minute and 55 seconds Or even the differences within India, where difference in that ethnic background and in religion divides the country. We’re also going to consider regional differences. In the UK, looking at differences between Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland. We’re also going to think about the political differences that have arisen since the EU referendum and how the identity of British nationalism has come up and how we can use behavioural economics to investigate these polarised contexts as well. In addition, we can apply this to the U.S. between the Democrats and the Republicans as well. The course is structured in three weeks. In every week you will learn something different. You will read articles, you will see videos.

Skip to 2 minutes and 38 seconds In week one, we will look at rules and determinants and regulations of how to set up experiments. These rules are very important and less applied probably to the other weeks, but still you need to know them to set up your experiment in the future. In week one, after you learn about the rules and regulations in Behavioural Economics, we will also talk about trust in why trust is important, and especially during the entire course, we will look at polarisation, how different groups interact with each other and don’t interact with each other in terms of trust, fairness, reciprocity and how we can bring them to a better learning outcome and working together when they work together.

Skip to 3 minutes and 20 seconds In week two, we are going to look at the concept of fairness and in particular, we’re going to look at how it affects behaviour in bargaining games. We will study this by looking at two standards games from behavioural economics, which are a dictator game and the ultimatum game. In addition to this, in week two, we’ll also consider why cooperation is important. We’ll think about why we cooperate in different contexts, whether that be in the workplace, internationally or in your households. And we’ll use two standard games, the public goods game and the prisoner’s dilemma. So in week three, we will introduce the concept of reciprocity, which is a phenomenon where individuals tend to reciprocate.

Skip to 4 minutes and 10 seconds So respond to kind acts with kindness and the two negative actions with unkind actions. And we are going to look at how reciprocity can help us with explaining behaviour observed in the games studied in previous weeks. In particular, we are going to focus on how it can help us to explain behaviour in that the ultimatum game in public good games and in the trust game. And then to end, we think about different behavioural factors such as personality traits. We’ll think about a well used and replicable measure The Big Five personality traits and how that can impact decision making in the games that we’ve been looking at before in the previous three weeks.

Skip to 4 minutes and 57 seconds We also think about the element of social norms, the fact that what we think is the right thing to do in social settings can impact how we behave and that this can correspond to, again, the workplace and households, but also in government and policy making decisions. The entire three weeks will be closed. Then at the end of week three, of course, we hope that you will take something away that you could apply in your daily life, in your workplace. We hope that you are getting an interest in what we do and what the field of research is doing. And if you have questions or like to get in contact with us, please do this.


  • Week 1

    Getting Started

    • Welcome - Start Here

      Welcome to the first activity on the Inspiring Women Leaders course. The steps within this activity will provide you with essential course information.

    • Polarisation & Discrimination - In and Outgroup Stereotypical Thinking

      This week delves into polarisation and discrimination - how we define them and how we can measure them.

    • Experiments in Behavioural Economics

      In this part of the week, we will talk about some rules that must be followed to conduct a good and valid experiment in Behavioural Economics

    • The Concept of Trust

      The concept of trust is introduced as a crucial element in various transactions and interactions in daily life. This introduction details how trust functions as a major ingredient in economic and social behaviors.

  • Week 2

    Fairness and Cooperation

    • Welcome to the week

      Welcome to the second week of this Behavioural Economics short course

    • The Concept of Fairness

      Negotiating or making deals is something we all do in our daily lives, both in money matters and social interactions.

    • The Concept of Cooperation

      Cooperation in behavioral economics is crucial as it fosters collective problem-solving, enhances resource distribution efficiency, and promotes trust and reciprocity among individuals.

  • Week 3

    Reciprocity, Personality Traits and Social Norms

    • Welcome to the week

      Welcome to the third and final week of the Behavioural Economics short course.

    • Reciprocity and Beliefs

      In this part of the course we will focus on Reciprocity and Beliefs.

    • Personality Traits and Social Norms

      In this part of the course we look at Personality Traits and Social Norms in the context of Behavioural Economics.

When would you like to start?

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Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Demonstrate a consolidated knowledge of core theories in microeconomics of relevance to business and managerial decision-making
  • Critically review the development of economic theory and of schools of thought
  • Apply economic analytical concepts, theories and techniques to provide a critical perspective of consumer and organisational behaviour and decision-making

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in learning more about human behaviour, behavioural biases, and behavioural economics.

It is particularly aimed at professionals working in the fields of public policy, marketing, finance, healthcare, and social work.

Who will you learn with?

Lerato is a Lecturer in Economics at Nottingham Business School. Her research interest is in behavioural economics, with themes such as other-regarding preferences, social norms and personality traits

Ludovica is a Senior Research Fellow in Experimental and Behavioural Economics, in the Department of Economics at the Nottingham Business School.

Who developed the course?

Nottingham Business School

Nottingham Business School’s (NBS) purpose is to provide research and education that combines academic excellence with positive impact on people, business and society.

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  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$109/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 3 May 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

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