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The Psychology of Economic Behaviour


Admission requirements

Master’s students MSc in Psychology


Economic behaviour is essentially social behaviour. Behaviours like gambling, saving, bargaining, consumption all refer to social contexts. As a consequence, social psychology has much to offer to economics. In this course we will focus on what social psychology can contribute to the understanding of such economic behaviours.

We will seek answers to questions like:

  • “How does personality come into play?”

  • “How rational is economic behaviour?”

  • “What about emotions?”

  • “Are we only motivated by self-interest?”

  • “How do we deal with uncertainty?”

In the search for answers we will concentrate on how the assumptions of economic theory compare to the most recent insights in social psychology. For this purpose we will read and discuss up-to-date articles in economic and psychological journal articles and book chapters as well as classic studies that had a major impact on the development of psychological and economic theory. Students will prepare the meetings by reading the literature, and actively participate in the discussions. The course will end with a final exam.

Course objectives

The student:

  • Has specialized knowledge of social psychological theories about behaviour and decision-making in social contexts and organisations.

  • Has thorough knowledge of subjects (within and beyond the specialization) that may be of importance for the use of these theories (i.e., social psychology, behavioural economics).

  • Can at basic level make use of theories that are common in social psychology.


The Psychology of Economic Behaviour (2010-2011):

Mode of instruction

Seven seminars/lectures and final exam.

Assessment method

Written final exam.

From January 1, 2006 the Faculty of Social Sciences has instituted the Ephorus system to be used by instructors for the systematic detection of plagiarism in students’ written work. Please see the information concerning fraud .


Information on

Blackboard will be used to make studymaterial, powerpoint lectures and additional material available.

Reading list

Journal articles and book chapters to be announced via Blackboard.


Introduction and enrolment for courses of the first semester will take place on 2 September 2010. Introduction and enrolment for courses of the second semester will take place on 27 January 2011. More information will be available at the website of the Institute of Psychology.

NB: Exam registration will take place via uSis, and will be open between a month and a week before the (re)exam. Students who haven’t registered, cannot participate in the exam.

Contact information

Prof.dr. E. van Dijk