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Behavioural Science Research Group

  • Unit(s) of assessment: Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience; Computer Science and Informatics; Business and Management Studies; Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management
  • Research theme: Global Heritage: Science, Management and Development
  • School: Nottingham Business School


The Behavioural Science Group employs various methods to gain deeper insight into human behaviour and decision making. We use our own laboratory for experimental economics and utilise methodologically innovative interdisciplinary studies in the fields of economics, business, management, strategy, human resources, finance, psychology, sociology and politics. Our methods range across laboratory experiments, field experiments, empirical analysis, econometrics, theory and qualitative methods.

Our group investigates various interdisciplinary topics, such as social behaviour, corruption, energy consumption, traffic, line-management, company and business culture, trust and cooperation in business, companies and institutions, wellbeing, engagement, work motivation, incentives, productivity and happiness.

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 group enables us to gain systematic insights into structures and processes of human decision making from different research angles and methods. We employ single method approaches as well as combined methods.

At the heart of our centre is the laboratory which adheres rigidly to the rules of the experimental and behavioural economics community.

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. This then enables us to measure shifts towards desired behaviour when we change and design ‘nudges, actions and interventions’ and use this information to shift people’s behaviour.

We work closely with NHS Scotland, HMRC, Engage for Success and other partners.


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.

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.

Related staff

Please see our Staff Profiles to find out more about NTU staff related to this project.

External Members

Professor Joel Stiebale

Professor Roberto Hernan-Gonzalez

Professor Marcus Giamattei

Professor Abhijit Ramalingam

Professor Abigail Barr

Professor Elizabeth David-Barrett

Related projects

Understanding engagement and leadership in the health and social care sector

The research aims to explore the impact of leadership as an antecedent on workforce engagement and productivity, contextualised in Health and Social Care Sector in the UK, which is struggling to do more with less. The proposed research also aims to explore the role of gender in this equation. The research will collate data through mixed methods, through interviews and behavioural experiments to gain insights into the level of perceptions such as rationality, trust, fairness, co-operation and reciprocity. In the treatment group interventions/actions will take place, in the control group no interventions take place.  The experiments/scenarios will be repeated post interventions/actions to measure if the gap in perceptions has narrowed. This in turn will help establish the extent to which bridging the gap improves engagement and thereby the productivity. Team: Anila Khalique, Sarah Pass, Thorsten Chmura.

Polarisation and the effects on trust, fairness, cooperation and norms, referendum outcomes and collective action: Winners and losers in Britain and Zimbabwe.

This thesis investigates the effects of polarisation between an in-group and out-group on collective action outcomes, other-regarding preferences and economic performance. The thesis compares the UK with political polarisation following Brexit and ethnic polarisation in Zimbabwe. To identify the effects of polarisation behavioural games are used to test trust, fairness, cooperation, honesty and social norms. Furthermore, this project uses a behavioural governance intervention to begin to address practical ways of bridging gaps between polarised people. Team: Lerato Dixon, Rob Ackrill, Jingwen Fan, Thorsten Chmura.

Using Behavioural Economics to Understand Multi level decision making, Work preferences and Employee Engagement in the UK Workplace

This project is concerned with the use of behavioural economics, namely the use of controlled field experiments, in order to better understand the drivers behind a range of workplace-based phenomenon within UK organisations. The aim is for these experiments to lead to a better understanding of employee’s motivational/productivity responses to financial stimulus, as well as explore the relationship between a range of socio-economic variables and discriminatory behaviours from employee and employer perspective. Team: Ashley Purcell, Thorsten Chmura, Sarah Pass

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