Key topics

Our research addresses the four key topics below.

The topics interact at different levels of analysis and provide fascinating opportunities for knowledge sharing, cross fertilisation and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Consumer behaviour

The main aim of research on consumer behaviour is to examine the dynamic interaction between the cognitive, motivational and affective mechanisms that underlie the attitude formation, purchase intention, and decision-making processes of consumers.

The centre will focus on different issues in the field of consumer behaviour. For example, previous research suggests that ads and products that activate autobiographical memories charge the products/ads with positive affect and reduce attention to the specific product features. It is an exciting question how these memories work and shape consumers’ attitudes and purchase intentions.  

Behavioural biases and nudging

In the standard economic model, consumers and organisations act rationally. However, research in psychology and economics has uncovered a number of behavioural biases, i.e. a number of ways in which the behaviour of consumers and organisations deviates from the standard economic model. For example, people tend to be biased, loss averse, overconfident, influenced by defaults and frames and pay limited attention.

Through its research, the centre aims to understand the implications of behavioural biases on consumers, organisations, markets, and consumer welfare. The presence of behavioural biases may also provide an argument for nudging interventions that attempt to influence consumer behaviour. Nudging interventions may be used in an attempt to correct behavioural biases, improve consumer welfare and promote sustainable behaviour. In other cases, nudging tools can be used to exploit behavioural biases. The centre will focus on studying the intended effects, unintended effects and spillover effects of nudging. The aim is to contribute to an understanding of when and why nudging in complex environments is effective and when it may backfire.

Sustainability

The environment is being polluted, resources are being depleted and the climate is changing. Many scientists agree that human activities contribute to climate change, and that actions must be taken to preserve the Earth as we know it. However, the resource consumption of companies and households has increased steadily over the last decades.

To steer behaviour into a more sustainable direction, it is crucial to know the psychological foundations underlying (un-)sustainable behaviour. In fact, many businesses and consumers want to be more environmentally sustainable, but there still is a substantial gap between intentions and behaviour. In its research, the centre will focus on several major issues within sustainability, such as:

  • how to strengthen sustainable attitudes in and beyond business organisations
  • how to transform pro-environmental intentions into actual pro-environmental behaviour in both consumers and companies
  • how to prevent the exploitation of resources, when each single actor (e.g. companies) benefits from exploiting the resources (i.e. so-called social dilemmas).

Business ethics

Business ethics deals with fundamental questions targeting the right and wrong of actions in corporate contexts, including the moral actions of people beyond the business sphere. Central themes addressed at the centre will be corruption, cheating behaviour, and broader ethical questions (e.g. who is allowed to exploit scare resources).

The centre will contribute to the field of business ethics with knowledge and theories from psychology and its sub-disciplines such as moral psychology, social psychology (insights from the study of prosocial and antisocial behaviour), personality psychology (including prosocial and antisocial personality traits, as well as narrative identity), and from the fields of behavioural economics and behavioural decision-making.