The research described in this section is funded as a Schumpeter-Fellowship by the Volkswagen Foundation. The topic of this project "Psychological Influences on Economic Decisions".
The background concerns one of the central questions in psychology and economics: what are the reasons behind human decision making? One important approach in psychology is the learning theory, which assumes that people strive for positive and avoid negative states and that people learn from their experiences with the environment and show an increase in behavior that leads to positive or avoids negative states. Learning theory would suggest that the learned associations between a behavior and its consequences are revealed through emotions to influence future decisions to obtain positive target states. This position is the main theoretical basis for the neuroscientific studies that preceded the project. The advancement of this work in the project is not only built on research in psychology and economics but also built on modeling approaches from mathematics and physics.
Three empirical fields of research are being pursued in cooperative projects as part of the Schumpeter Fellowship.
The first research area focuses on the ultimatum game, a classic paradigm for studying decision making from the field of economics. The aim of this study is to determine if induced emotional states influence the decisions to accept or reject fair and unfair offers in this game, and demonstrating the neurobiological correlates of this influence.
The second area investigates adolescents that do not yet possess fully developed emotional control. The research targets the interaction of emotions and risky behavior for individual as well as group based decisions, again examining the neuroscientific basis.
The third research area examines businessmen as real decision makers in economic contexts, to determine how they are influenced by emotions and risk perception.