A great way to get introduced to concepts and applications of behavioral economics, nudging, behavioural insights, and in behavioural science in general, is to sign up for an online course. That is actually how I got introduced to these disciplines before deciding to attend a full MSc. Here you can find a list that I have put together through time.
Note: If you have never attended an online course, you should know that there are different formats and different pricing schemes. Platforms such as Coursera and EdX, usually provide courses (MOOCs) that you can audit for free but you pay a fee if you would like to go through the assessment and receive a certificate. Other platforms/courses provide content with videos and other materials, but usually do not provide assessment nor certificate.
MOOCs with assessment (Coursera, EDx, FutureLearn .. )
Behavioural Economics in Action — Taught by Dilip Soman at the University of Toronto, this course is what got me into behavioural economics. It covers the most important aspects from theory, to applications in business and policy, including methodology and experimental design and analysis. If the course is not available, I recommend following Prof. Soman on Twitter as he usually tweets when the course is again active.
The Mind is Flat: the Shocking Shallowness of Human Psychology — Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at the University of Warwick, uncovers our ‘illusion of mental depth’.
Behavioral Finance — This course offered by Duke University, gives an overview of human decision making processes , including biases and heuristics, to guide participants towards better financial choices.
Social Norms, Social Change I and Social Norms, Social Change II — Social norms are a powerful force for human behaviour and often discussed in behavioural interventions. Cristina Bicchieri, Professor of Social Thought and Comparative Ethics at University of Pennsylvania, provides two great courses teaching how to diagnose social norms, and how to distinguish them from other social constructs, and how to measure them. Supported by UNICEF, it includes many example of interventions in difficult context where social norms have been affecting behaviours such as in child marriage, public sanitation, and gender violence.
Mindware: Critical Thinking for the Information Age — It covers concepts from the field of judgment and decision making that are also fundamental for behavioural economics. Lessons include: basic concepts of statistics, experiments, cognitive biases, choosing and deciding, and reasoning.
The Science of Everyday Thinking (The University of Queensland) — Another course the taps into human decision making and critical thinking. “We will provide tools for how to think independently, how to be skeptical, and how to value data over personal experience. We will examine the mental shortcuts that people use and misuse, and apply this knowledge to help make better decisions, and improve critical thinking.”
The Science of Well-Being — Well-Being (a.k.a happiness) is a important field of study in behavioural economics and Professor Laurie Santos introduced this incredibly popular course while at Yale University. She “reveals misconceptions about happiness, annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do, and the research that can help us change. You will ultimately be prepared to successfully incorporate a specific wellness activity into your life.” If you are interested in this topic check also this other course “Social Wellbeing” by the University of Edinburgh and “Policy tools: wellbeing impacts and cost effectiveness” created by What Works Wellbeing.
Designing and Running Randomized Evaluations — This great course, taught by faculty at the J-PAL at M.I.T. , is very useful to understand how the impact of interventions can be evaluated by using randomised trials (RCTs). RCTs are the gold standard for evaluating also behavioural economics based interventions.
Model Thinking — “Models help us to better organize information – to make sense of that fire hose or hairball of data (choose your metaphor) available on the Internet. Models improve our abilities to make accurate forecasts. They help us make better decisions and adopt more effective strategies. They even can improve our ability to design institutions and procedures”
Introduction to Neuroeconomics: How the Brain Makes Decisions — “Neuroeconomics provides biologists, economists, psychologists and social scientists with a deeper understanding of how they make their own decisions and how others decide.”
Game Theory — “Popularized by movies such as “A Beautiful Mind,” game theory is the mathematical modeling of strategic interaction among rational (and irrational) agents. ” “The course will provide the basics: representing games and strategies, the extensive form (which computer scientists call game trees), Bayesian games (modeling things like auctions), repeated and stochastic games, and more. We’ll include a variety of examples including classic games and a few applications.”
Non assessed MOOCs
Dan Ariely on Changing Customer Behavior(Udemy) — How social entrepreneurs can harness the principles of behavioral change to reach more customers and create impact. Dan Ariely is Professor of Behavioural Economics at Duke University and author of numerous fascinating books on the topic.
Behavioral Economics and Neuromarketing (Udemy) — “Learn how to affect the decision making flows and increase sales/usage of your products. Make better decisions in life. ” Have not personally watched this course but I mention it here for reference.
Behavioural Economics (42 Courses) — Created by Rory Sutherland and Dan Bennett at Ogilvy Consulting, this course examines the pillars of behavioural economics. “In this course you will quickly and easily master the key behavioural change concepts such as nudging, framing, social proof, scarcity, commitment devices and even the ethics behind it all.”
Behavioural Science for Brands (42 Courses) — With a focus on marketing, this course introduces C.R.E.A.T.E.S., a simple framework to apply some important concepts of behavioural economics.
Behavioral Economics & Psychology in Marketing — This relatively pricey course is focused on marketing applications. Lead by Matej Sucha, provides interviews to Dan Ariely, Rory Southerland, Sam Tatam, extensive material organised in a framework called A.D.A.P.T.
Designing Nudges – A step-by-step framework to designing behavioral interventions that work — Private Swedish consultancy Impactually, proposes two exclusive frameworks: REFINE to identify the appropriate type of nudge, and BOOST to apply it to your own challenge.
BETA Behavioural insights for public policy — Fictional characters Uma (the public service learner), Chip (the robotic Homo Economicus), and Hugh (the human model) will accompany you through the journey of key behavioural insights and implications for public policy. BETA is the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government.