Course Syllabus

10 sessions


1A Hoang Dieu, Ward 10, Phu Nhuan, HCMC   View map



Learning objectives
1. Understand the behavioral foundations of human decision-making and development
2. Differentiate types of experiments in the lab and field
3. Acquire first practical skills and knowledge on how to design behavioral interventions and experiments

Course description
If we want to study development and design better development policies, we ultimately need to understand how people and groups in developing countries behave. Behavioural insights and experiments are now applied across many disciplines ranging from psychology, anthropology, sociology, political science as well as economics. Behavioral anomalies and biases in the spirit of Nobel Prize winner and psychologist Daniel Kahneman are the starting point for understanding human
behaviour more broadly (e.g. endowment effects, loss aversion, and anchoring) and have changed the way policy-makers design interventions.

Overall, the course centers around four main questions: What are the behavioral foundations of human decision making and economic development? How can policy-makers bring about positive behavioral change? How can we measure behavior using experiments? How does one design and run lab and field experiments, as well as behavioural interventions in practice? The course comes in three parts: the first part reviews the behavioral foundations of human decision making and development. The second part surveys and reviews standard lab (e.g. trust, public good, risk, discount games) and field games, and presents applications in the field of development studies. The third, more practical part of the course, focuses on how to tailor and implement experimental protocols and interventions in the field. Exact topics and applications will be picked depending on the research interests of participants (including RP topics).

Individual Assignment 85%, 15% Group Assignment


 Ashraf, N., D. Karlan, and W. Yin. (2006) ‘Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence from a Commitment
Savings Product in the Philippines’,
Quarterly Journal of Economics, 121(2): 635–672.
Cardenas, J.C. and J. Carpenter (2008) ‘Behavioural Development Economics: Lessons from Field Labs in the Developing World’,
Journal of Development Studies, 44(3): 337-364.
Duflo, E., M. Kremer and J. Robinson (2011) ‘Nudging Farmers to Use Fertilizer: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Kenya’,
American Economic Review, 101(6): 2350-2390.
Henrich, J., R. Boyd, S. Bowles, C. Camerer, E. Fehr, H. Gintis et al. (2005) ‘“Economic man” in cross-cultural perspective: Behavioral Experiments in 15 Small-scale Societies,
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 28(06): 795-815.
Kahneman, D. (2012)
Thinking, Fast and Slow. London: Penguin Books.
Thaler, R.H. and Sunstein, C.R. (2009)
Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness (revised and expanded edn). New York, NY: Penguin Books.
World Bank Group (2015) ‘World Development Report 2015: Mind, Society, and Behavior.’ Washington, DC: World Bank. Available at:

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