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Behavioral Science

“Wouldn't economics make a lot more sense if it were based on how people actually behave, instead of how they should behave?” (Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational)

Markets consist of individual decision makers and are shaped by their behavior. Our Behavioral Science research group strives for a better understanding of the behavior of market participants, consumers and corporate decision makers alike. Our research activities center on the decision-making processes of market participants and how they are changing, with particular focus on the impact of new technologies. 

In line with Dan Ariely’s introductory quote, we are interested in how humans actually behave and make decisions under limited time and cognitive resources. This includes studying potential judgmental biases or shortcomings, but also the many clever ways in which human cognition adapts to and exploits information in an ever-changing choice environment. Realistic conceptions of consumer and corporate decision making are a necessary pre-condition for marketing insights to make an impact. Only if we understand the informational needs but also the limits of corporate decision makers, we can make market research results more understandable and powerful. And only if we understand consumer decision processes and needs, can we help to align products, services and stores with consumers’ goals.

We address our research questions with a variety of methods, such as surveys, lab, online and field experiments, observational tools (e.g., face and voice analysis), (re)analysis of existing behavioral datasets, up to sometimes even prototype development. To achieve research excellence across a wide a variety of topics, we cooperate with academic experts in the respective fields. Ultimately, we consider ourselves as an independent source for evidence-based insights about market decisions as well as new tools and methods for gaining such insights. We regularly make our findings and, if applicable, recommendations available to the interested public. 

Our researchers​

Past projects: 

Academic cooperation partners (past and present):

/// KARLSRUHE INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (KIT), KD2LAB AND DIVISION FOR ELECTRONIC MARKETS AND USER BEHAVIOR, PD DR. JELLA PFEIFFER: Two research projects, (1) on how virtual reality can be used to study shopper decision making and (2) on experimentally validating the use of voice to infer emotional arousal.

/// UNIVERSITY OF BIELEFELD, COGNITIVE INTERACTION TECHNOLOGY CENTER OF EXCELLENCE (CITEC), DR. THIES PFEIFFER: Research project on how virtual reality can be used to study shopper decision making.

/// UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN DENMARK, DEPARTMENT OF SOCIOLOGY; ENVIRONMENTAL AND BUSINESS ECONOMICS, PROF. DR. MARTIN MEISSNER: Research project on how virtual reality can be used to study shopper decision making.

/// UNIVERSITY OF GENEVA, SWISS CENTER FOR AFFECTIVE SCIENCE (CISA), PROFESSOR DR. KLAUS SCHERER: Research project on software-supported emotion recognition under the working title “Facial Coding”. Automatic image recognition records facial expressions and uses these to deduce the emotions relating to advertising and products.

/// FRAUNHOFER INSTITUTE FOR INTEGRATED CIRCUITS IIS, DEPARTMENT OF IMAGE ANALYSIS AND PATTERN RECOGNITION, DR. JENS-UWE GARBAS: Research project on software-supported emotion recognition under the working title “Facial Coding”. Automatic image recognition records facial expressions and uses these to deduce the emotions relating to advertising and products.

/// UNIVERSITY OF ERLANGEN-NUREMBERG, CHAIR OF ECONOMIC THEORY, PROF. DR. VERONIKA GRIMM: Research project on how trustworthiness and diligence of citizens in various EU are perceived by their fellow Europeans.

/// UNIVERSITY OF DUISBURG-ESSEN, DEPARTMENT OF GENERAL PSYCHOLOGY, PROFESSOR DR. MATTHIAS BRAND: Study of purchase decisions testing what information people consider before they make a purchase.

/// UNIVERSITÄT ZÜRICH, LEHRSTUHL FÜR NEUROSPYCHOLOGIE, PROFESSOR DR. LUTZ JÄNCKE: Collaborative project on neuromarketing to explore the relationship between brain and behavior. The experiments provide new insights into brain activity before and after a purchase.

/// SAARLAND UNIVERSITY, INSTITUTE FOR CONSUMPTION AND BEHAVIOR RESEARCH, PROFESSOR DR. ANDREA GRÖPPEL-KLEIN: Cooperation on the development of tools to measure emotions in advertising impact research, resulting in the development of the picture-based emotion self-report scale EMO Sensor.

/// UNIVERSITY OF HARVARD, LEHRSTUHL PROFESSOR DR. JOHN HAUSER:
Research to better predict purchase decisions by using the Greedoid algorithm. Previous conjoint methods have always worked with compensatory methods in which good characteristics can compensate for bad characteristics. However, experience shows that consumers often eliminate bad alternatives based on single attributes.

/// UNIVERSITY OF HOHENHEIM, MARKETING DEPARTMENT, PROFESSOR DR. MARKUS VOETH: Further development of conjoint analysis to produce the “Hierarchical Individualized Limit Conjoint Analysis” (HILCA). This complex software tool facilitates research into preferences and benefit considerations during purchase decisions, which depend on many factors.