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OPINION19 April 2011

Misbehavioural economics

Everywhere you go right now someone appears to be talking about behavioural economics. But what does it mean for how we do research?

Everywhere you go right now someone appears to be talking about behavioural economics and its potential impact on marketing and research. It has been in Research recently, at the Research 2011 conference and there is an upcoming session at Esomar. Politicians too are extolling its virtues in understanding what makes people do the things that they do.

We at Spring have even hosted our own event recently to explore what behavioural economics means for how we do research. I know it has a lot of implications for marketing; how to price, promote and distribute products have all been subjects of behavioural economics experiments.

Broadly, I think behavioural economics shows the lack of human understanding behind ideas such as conjoint, but mostly I think it probably tells us things we already knew. We need to think about bias, we must let respondents tell us things in their own way and in their own words; don’t pre-impose structures on people; don’t always lead with the same attribute – or “don’t anchor” in the parlance of behavioural economics – and don’t assume people are great witnesses to their own actions.

In the words of someone tweeting at Research 2011: isn’t that just really good research?

@RESEARCH LIVE

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