Behavioural economics: concepts, tools and applications

Crawford School of Public Policy | Executive course
Economics, Data Analysis and Decision Making


This course will provide an introduction to the methods used in behavioural economics. After an introduction to the basic concept of an experimental approach and why it may be needed to enable government and researchers to evaluate policy interventions, this course will explain the foundations of causal analysis, discuss important statistical concepts relevant for design and implementation of randomised controlled trials. Laboratory experiments, basic statistical methods needed to analyse trial data and provide examples and applications will also be examined. Special emphasis will be put on the ingredients that are needed to run an effective and informative randomised controlled trial

Course overview

The course will provide participants with the knowledge they require to understand general concepts of behavioural economics and to apply basic statistical tools to trial design, implementation and data analysis. The course will combine intuitive explanations with practical examples. It will involve basic mathematical and statistical concepts that will be explained as part of the course. The course is suitable for beginners and as a refresher for those with a basic statistics background.

Topics to be covered:

The course will cover eight main topics:

  1. General concepts of behavioural economics
  2. Statistical concepts
  3. Basic econometric tools
  4. How to develop a randomised controlled trial
  5. Natural, laboratory and field experiments: evaluation methods of behavioural economics
  6. Randomisation and methodological issues
  7. Data analysis: examples and applications
  8. Lab experiments: examples and applications

Course structure:

The first day of this course will give an introduction to some general concepts of behavioural economics, provide an overview of important statistical concepts and discuss practical challenges related to trial design and implementation. The second day will provide an introduction to important econometric tools required to analyse experimental and non-experimental data and discuss examples and applications.

Learning outcomes:

  • Ability to identify policy problems that lend themselves to behavioural economic interventions.
  • Sound ability to develop interventions and an evaluation strategy.
  • Sound understanding of quantitative methods used to evaluate the effectiveness of behavioural economic interventions.
  • Awareness of empirical, ethical and political limitations of the approach.
  • Anticipated behavioural and business impacts include:
  • A better understanding of behavioural economics, including the need to randomise, the challenges associated with trial design and implementation.
  • A better understanding of basic statistical and econometric concepts relevant for the analysis of trial data.
  • A better understanding of alternative approaches that may be used to study human behavior or evaluate public policies (including natural and laboratory experiments).

Who should attend?

This course is suitable for APS 5 / 6 and EL 1 / 2 level (or equivalent). No prior experience/knowledge required.

The course will involve basic mathematical and statistical concepts that will be explained as part of the course. The course is suitable for beginners and as a refresher for those with a basic statistics background.

Course presenter(s)

Dr Ho Fai Chan

Ho Fai Chan is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Economics and Finance at QUT Business School and Centre for Behavioural Economics, Society and Technology (BEST). His main research lies in the areas of Science of Science (SciSci) and Scientometrics which aim to provide better understanding of the relations and interactions between scientific agents using quantitative methods. His work has been published in journals such as Nature, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Labour Economics, Journal of Business Research, Scientometrics, PLOS One, Psychological Science, JAMA Network Open.

Professor Uwe Dulleck

Uwe Dulleck is a Professor in Applied Economics at QUT Business School, Economics and Finance and an Honorary Professor at the Australian National University. Prior to joining QUT, Uwe was a Professor of Economics at the University of Linz, Austria and an Assistant Professor at the University of Vienna. Uwe’s research and education expertise spans behavioral economics; economic experiments using biofeedback data; expert services and credence goods; and information economics. His work in these fields is widely published and includes the American Economic Review; Journal of Economic Literature; Economic Journal; Journal of Public Economics; International Journal of Industrial Organization; and the Scandinavian Journal of Economics. His research has been discussed in the Economic Focus of The Economist, Sydney Morning Herald and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (the Sunday edition of Germany’s leading quality newspaper), among others. Uwe is the recipient of several Australian Research Council Grants is a co-investigator on Austrian Research Grants. In 2015 Uwe was the Chairman of the Program Committee for Australia’s Conference of Economists, the leading and largest conference for research and applied economists in Australia. He is an active public commentator on behavioural economics and its applications to public policy, business decision making and regulation. He has collaborated with ASIC, the Australian Taxation Office, IP Australia, the Australian government, Department of Education and Training as well as with the BETA team in office of Prime Minister and Cabinet as well as for-profit and not-for-profit organisations on behavioural economics research projects.

Updated:  25 October 2021/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team