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Dutch economists and psychologists probe consumers' emotions

Tiber, the new Dutch Tilburg Institute for Behavioral Economics Research, will officially be opened on Thursday 30 August.

Internationally renowned consumer behaviour and social psychology scholars will present their latest views at a conference to mark the occasion. Tiber's psychologists and economists study the psychological processes that underlie economic decisions.

It would be impossible to explain economic behaviour satisfactorily without psychology. However, economic psychology has tended to be the exclusive domain of psychologists, and ‘behavioural economics’ of economists. Tilburg University founded Tiber with the aim of consolidating the link between psychology and economics. The research institute brings together psychologists, economists and marketing researchers.

Like economic psychologists everywhere, Tiber's researchers study the rational considerations behind economic decisions. They also go further by exploring irrational aspects. Consumers may be completely unaware of the emotions that sway the choices they make. For instance, they will try to avoid feelings of regret by minutely comparing products before buying, or they will watch a specific TV show so as to belong to a particular group. And whether someone takes the trouble to read an advertisement partly has to do with the size of the picture and the length of the text, although the reader is unaware of this.

The Tilburg researchers explore people's economic behaviour in field research and live laboratory trials. The hard facts they gather from this are improving our understanding and the quality of economic models.

Academic pioneer

Among the guests at the Tiber opening conference will be Robert Cialdini of Arizona State University, a renowned pioneer in the field of socio-psychological research into marketing. He too based his universal principles of influence on field research, while working undercover as a sales trainee. His book on sales techniques became a worldwide bestseller.

Corine Schouten | alfa
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