Behavioral simulators for experiential learning

Written on December 9, 2010 by uwe.spangler@ie.edu in General

How IMBA students learn from psychology

Experimental findings and methods in the behavioral sciences are becoming increasingly important in fields like economics and finance which until the last few decades relied heavily on models of rationality that often failed to predict real world behavior. As Professor Lee Newman comments, “We can study how people should behave and how people actually behave. Historically, these two approaches have been pursued independently. If we want to design better market mechanisms, craft more effective policies, and create more productive organizations we have to study and teach both perspectives, ideally at the same time.”

The IExperiments is designed to allow professors throughout IE to conduct behavioral experiments in the classroom, with students playing the role of experimental participants. The tool automates the process of running the experiment, collecting the data, displaying the results, and walking through the core lessons. Engineers & Lawyers is the first experiment and it is based on work in psychology and behavioral economics carried out by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman and colleagues.

As Professor Newman notes, “It’s one thing to read and learn about the results of seminal behavioral experiments. It’s quite another thing for students to participate in classroom replications of these experiments. The former leads to knowledge about behavior, the latter to behavioral change with lasting impact.”

The experiment was recently performed by IMBA students in the elective Behavioral Judgment & Decision Making. As one student commented “Despite the results, that were surprising, the tool was great, giving the right “suspense” for the results and keeping them in a graphic and useful way”. Another student noted “it´s interesting and funny to start a new topic with an application – testing yourself”.

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