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Centre for Behavioural Sciences

Unit(s) of assessment: Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience; Computer Science and Informatics; General Engineering; Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology; Business and Management Studies; Law; Social Work and Social Policy; Education; Politics and International Studies

Research theme: Health and Wellbeing

School: Nottingham Business School

The Behavioural Science Centre employs various methods to gain deeper insight into human behaviour and decision making. The Behavioural Impact Research on Decision Making (BIRD) Laboratory at the heart of our centre adheres rigidly to the rules of the experimental and behavioural economics community.

We employ methods derived from experimental and behavioural economics to conduct innovative interdisciplinary studies in the fields of economics, business, management, strategy, human resources, finance, psychology, sociology, law and politics. Our methods range across laboratory experiments, field experiments, observational studies, theory and qualitative methods.

Our centre investigates various interdisciplinary topics, such as the drivers of corruption in public procurement, the determinants of household demand for energy consumption, how to improve road traffic flows, what makes a good line manager, how to build and sustain a positive company culture, the effect of leaders’ behaviour, intercultural impediments to international business deals, how to improve the wellbeing and productivity of employees. We work internationally with other groups / laboratories across the globe to maintain our cross- cultural, cross-nations and international research approach.

The interdisciplinarity of our centre gives us a systematic view into human decision making and allows us to combine insights from various disciplines to gain a holistic understanding of what factors shape and motivate human behaviour. Our approach is grounded in the experimental method. This allows us to identify the root causes of the issues we are studying and develop interventions to effect positive change. Our interventions vary from nudges to proposals for institutional changes.

We work closely with NHS Scotland, HMRC, FCDO, Engage for Success and other partners. Areas of study include (not exhaustive):

  • Pricing, advertising, packaging and consumer perceptions, attitudes and behaviour
  • Negotiation and cultural cognition
  • Distributed and shared cognition, thinking and innovation
  • Decision-making and risk-taking behaviour and business performance
  • Digital behaviours and cybersecurity
  • Email interruptions and work productivity
  • Entrepreneurial behaviour

The above areas will come under the following broad research domains and will discover path breaking insights through experimental research:

  • Consumer Behaviour
  • Organisational Behaviour
  • Decision-making and Negotiation Behaviour
  • Cultural Profiling and Evolution
  • Entrepreneurial Behaviour
  • Strategic Behaviour
  • Ethical Behaviour
  • Financial Behaviour

Related staff

  • Ashley Purcell
  • Lerato Dixon
  • Anila Khalique
  • Tahir Daud
  • Weixi Han
  • Lerato Dixon
    Lerato Dixon
  • Alistair Bruce
    Alistair Bruce
  • Nadia Kougiannou
    Nadia Kougiannou
  • Ashley Purcell
    Ashley Purcell

Programme of Research

Impact: The centre has reached recognition and is seeking to extend the relationship with external stakeholders to ensure impact. It is seen of upmost importance to combine the academic excellence with stakeholders outside academia to keep the endeavours grounded and applicable. The projects below are seen to develop impact:

  • DFID – FCDO – Bribery on an international scale
  • CIPD – Engagement and Trainings via behavioural economics measures
  • HMRC – Changing the perspective of work and work motivation
  • Engage for Success – UK Government initiative to improve work engagement
  • NHS Scotland – UK Government initiative to improve work engagement
  • Nottingham Post - Discrimination

Flagship Projects

International deal-making, beliefs and local social norms

The findings of this research will help policymakers and transnational institutions design more effective international anti-corruption policies. The findings also will enable governments and organizations to best leverage anti-corruption laws to build organizational cultures of integrity. Governments and companies can use these insights to foster beliefs and values that enable behavioural integrity spreading from one context to another. As such, our analysis will shed light on how best to diffuse norms of integrity in an international context, and the role of laws and enforcement in achieving that goal. The team: Thorsten Chmura, Professor, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham Business School Abigail Barr, Professor, University of Nottingham, School of Economics, Elizabeth Dávid-Barrett, Professor, University of Sussex; Director of the Centre for the Study of Corruption, Cormac Bryce, Senior Lecturer, City University of London, Cass Business School, Faculty of Actuarial Science and Insurance, Marcus Giamattei, Professor, Bard College Berlin, Theodore Alysandratos, Research Associate, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham Business School.

The Behavioural Drivers of Corruption in Public Procurement

This project will gather insights into the behavioural drivers of corruption in public procurement in Mexico, South Africa, Indonesia and Malaysia. Our research will provide an in-depth understanding of how norms, honesty reciprocity, gender and preferences for risk and fairness affect the behaviour of public officials and investors. This research is funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. Team: Thorsten Chmura, Dr Theodoros Alysandratos.

The consequences of judicial reforms

This project investigates how the decision to convict and the length of sentences depend on the number of judges trying a case. Furthermore, it identifies an efficiency-certainty trade off in judicial decision making. This study was funded by the European Parliament via the European Liberal Forum. Team: Theodoros Alysandratos

Changing Company Culture

We have with the NHS Scotland and HMRC to gain insights in values of the institutions. We employ behavioural economics measures as well as qualitative methods to design action plans. Team: Sarah Pass and Thorsten Chmura. Team: Thorsten Chmura, Sarah Pass

Engage for Success: Behavioural Economics Thought and Action Group (TAG)

By conducting a series of experiments to measure participants’ personal preferences, we can understand why and how people behave in situations/circumstances in their life We are able to build tailored interventions to improve coordination, motivation, engagement and cooperation in organisations with employees from diverse backgrounds. As a Thought and Action Group, we can work with individual organisations or we can work into/across other TAGs. Experiments (or simulations) can focus on key engagement issues. For example: How leadership styles improve engagement, cooperation and motivation? Team: Thorsten Chmura, Sarah Pass.

Engage for Success: Line Manager Thought and Action Group (TAG)

Line managers are fundamental in driving and maintaining employee engagement. Although they are a key driver, we know little about how line managers influence employee engagement. The aim of the line manager TAG is to explore the role of the line manager in implementing and sustaining engagement initiatives in practice through case study research involving a multi-method approach.

Research Team: Sarah Pass, Derek Watling, Nadia Kougiannou, Maranda Ridgway, Catherine Abe, Rory Campbell.

Additional Information

The Behavioural Impact Research on Decision Making (BIRD) Laboratory and mobile laboratory are the main tool in the Behavioural Science Centre to conduct research with citizens, companies and students (NTU).

The BIRD lab creates an interdisciplinary environment designed to conduct computer-controlled in-person (i.e. in-lab) and online (i.e. web based) experiments as well as live behavioural observations, including audio-video recordings and measurement of eye-tracking.