Prof. dr. Fred van Raaij

Professor of Economic Psychology

Doctor h.c. Helsinki School of Economics and Business, Finland

"Economic psychology is the study of the behaviour of economic actors such as consumers, investors and entrepreneurs, including the determinants and consequences of this behaviour. Research topics in economic psychology diverge from 'green' consumer behaviour to the use of heuristics and emotions in decision making, from brand loyalty to cross-cultural differences in consumption, from trading on the stock market to financial illiteracy. While economists tend to start from the 'homo economicus', the rational man that maximises utility, economic psychologists start from descriptive research how economic actors make decisions, how they try to optimise or maximise but often fail because of information overload and uncertainty. Economic psychology is thus critical towards the economic approach, and successfully so. The 2002 Nobel Price in Economics went to Daniel Kahneman, an economic psychologist, and this changed the landscape. 'Behavioral economics', the economists' version of economic psychology, is now a hot topic.

The approach of the Master of Economic Psychology is both an experimental and a survey approach, both quantitatively and qualitatively. This means that in the educational program and in the Master's Thesis, these approaches are taught. Qualitative research means in-depth interviewing and focus groups to find 'deeper' meanings of products and goals and emotions of consumers. It is an example of an inductive approach from observations to theory building. The deductive approach is also present: theory based hypothesis testing.

Students with a Master's degree in Economic Psychology have no difficulty finding a job. The Master's program in Economic Psychology has a strong relationship with market and consumer research, both at agencies and companies. Furthermore, many students get a government job, because also governmental organizations want to know the effects of their policies, and want to develop policies with a high probability of success."

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