Behavioural Economics Videos

Behavioural economists have been quick on the uptake in using video lectures to convey their message. Here is a short round-up focusing on quality rather than comprehensiveness.

The best example is Daniel Kahneman’s Nobel prize lecture “Maps of Bounded Rationality” (38 mins). It shows how cognitive biases resemble visual illusions and attacks rational-choice economics on a number of points.

Dan Gilbert, author of the wonderful Stumbling on Happiness, gives a run through some main topics of the book in “Our Mistaken Expectations” (34 mins, TED talk). He argues that we humans are hopeless at affective forecasting because we have trouble estimating both probability and utility. This is a useful introduction to the idea of heuristics.

Gilbert applies applies our poor understanding of probabilities to issues of global disaster in “The Human Brain’s problems with Global Warming” (15 minutes, free to download Creative Commons)

Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, has a number of videos online. In
“Are we in control of our decisions?” (17 minutes, TED talk) he discusses the effect on decisions of extending the choice set, and addresses the importance of defaults in a way that will be familiar to readers of Nudge. (This has also been posted on as “Tendencies of Irrational Behavior”)

In “Our Buggy Moral Code” (16 mins, TED talk) Ariely talks about his research on cheating, where the cheating behaviour seemed unaffected by the magnitude of the incentive, but depended greatly on priming effects and on whether the subject could get money or tokens that could be exchanged for money. He also has a lecture in the “Authors@Google” series (56 mins, Youtube) which is very similar to the “Are we in control…” video but at greater length.

Richard Thaler’s Google lecture (57 mins, Youtube) outlines the key ideas of his co-written book Nudge, including how the rational agents of conventional economics differ from real human beings.

The BBC television programme Horizon has an online extract showing the Hall and Johansson experiments on choice blindness (1’38”, online streaming) in which subjects confabulate their reasons for making a choice between two alternatives.

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