Important: The course will be held in English!
Standard economic theory implies “the more the better”, i.e. more options leading to higher consumer welfare. Real-life decision making however deviates in many facets from the idealistic assumptions of the homo economicus. As a consequence, we observe a “paradox of choice” whereby “more is less”, i.e. satisfaction decreases with more options available. Think about your own choice difficulties when buying a new pair of jeans or choosing a new shampoo or washing detergent. Consumers can suffer from increased freedom of choice. This seminar investigates the contingencies which can evoke this paradox of choice. Concepts of behavioral decision theory help to understand the mechanism impacting consumers´ decision making.
The seminar addresses the topic from two complementary perspectives, which built two consecutive phases:
Phase 1 (until end of May 2022): A broad reflection about “the paradox of choice” will guide us into the topic: When we choose, how we choose, why we suffer and what we can do? We will discuss daily problems of choice. In addition, guidance for conducting scientific work will be provided.
Phase 2 (from June 2022 onwards): An analysis of the scientific decision making literature will be in the focus of the individual seminar papers. Potential student topics will cover key concepts and theoretical foundations, as e.g.: Choice overload, heuristics and biases, choosing versus rejecting, maximizing, happiness, trade-off-decisions, regret, counterfactual Thinking and other topics (students´ own choices).
The students should be enabled to apply the basics and models of decision theory to concrete practical problems and to independently reflect on decision-making with regard to economic issues.
The first phase of the seminar (until end of May) will be used to discuss research methodology, guide students in drafting their seminar works & to get familiar with the broader topic. Hereto, we will discuss selected chapters from following book (can be used for students´ topic pitches):
Schwartz, B. (2004). The paradox of choice: Why more is less. New York: Ecco.
The presentation of students´ seminar works will take place in the second phase, starting after the “Pfingstferien” 2022. Specific due-dates and presentation dates will be announced after students´ final choices of topics, latest in the third week of the semester.
To pass the course, students have to successfully contribute the following deliverables:
1. 70% written seminar paper: written paper (12-15 pages) due two weeks before assigned presentation date in course phase 2.
2. 30% verbal participation throughout the research process: (a) a short pitch in course phase 1 on an introductory topic (e.g. book chapter); (b) a discussion of own seminar work (15-20 min presentation); and (c) a 5-min reflection on a research topic of a fellow student.