Anno Accademico 2023/2024

  • Docente: Maria Bigoni
  • Crediti formativi: 6
  • SSD: SECS-P/01
  • Lingua di insegnamento: Inglese
  • Modalità didattica: Convenzionale - Lezioni in presenza
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Laurea in Economics and Finance (cod. 8835)

Conoscenze e abilità da conseguire

The goal of this course is to introduce students to the vast field of behavioral economics, an interdisciplinary area that employs the employs concepts from economics and psychology to gain a deeper understanding of individual behavior. The theory has important applications to finance, the organization of human resources and the labor market, consumer behavior, marketing, health, and the associated public policies.



The course relies on basic notions of microeconomics and game theory, and makes use of simple algebra and calculus.


Part 1: Individual decisions

Choice under risk and uncertainty.

In this set of classes, we will focus on individual decision making when the payoff outcomes cannot be known for sure in advance. After having reviewed the basic concepts of Expected Utility Theory, we will discuss some “anomalies” in lottery-choice situations, and other observed departures from the theoretically optimal behaviour, and we will discuss Prospect Theory as an alternative model of choice under risk and uncertainty.

Information and learning

Information specific to individuals is often unobserved by others. Such information may be conveyed at a cost, but misrepresentation and strategic non-revelation is sometimes a problem. Informational asymmetries yield rich economic models that may have multiple equilibria and unusual patterns of behavior. Here we will consider how information is used to form and update beliefs (Bayesian updating and behavioral models of learning). Finally we will study situations in which people may learn from others’ actions, giving rise to bandwagon effects.

Part 2: Behavioral Game Theory

This part presents several games in which behavior is influenced by intuitive economic forces in ways that are not captured by basic game theory. We will consider models that try to account for these empirical regularities, by relaxing the strong game-theoretic assumptions of perfect rationality and perfect predictions of others’ decisions.

Part 3: Social preferences

Bilateral bargaining

This part focuses on the issues of fairness, equity, trust and reciprocity within the framework of bilateral bargaining. We will review the vast experimental literature on these issues, which highlight how – under several circumstances – observed behavior tends to depart in substantial ways from the standard theoretical predictions.

Public choice

This part focuses on situations in which the outcome, and the social welfare, depends on the behavior of a large set of agents. We will study situations where the actions taken by some people affect the well being of others. Examples are the provision of public goods, and the exploitation of common resources.

Part 4: Behavioral macroeconomics and behavioral finance

Behavioral macroeconomics

This part covers studies that are motivated by macro issues of consumption, banking, and multi-market production, in the attempt to provide some insights in the understanding of banking and macroeconomics crises.

Behavioral finance

This part reviews the main insights from the field of Behavioral finance, which approaches the study of financial phenomena through the lenses of models that do not rely on the assumption of agents' full rationality. We will explore the main types of deviations form full rationality that have been shown to impact on financial markets, the emergence of financial bubbles, and the literature on the "limits to arbitrage," which discusses the consequences that these departures from the rationality paradigm may have on the equilibrium outcomes.


Main references:

Holt, Charles A. Markets, Games, & Strategic Behavior. Second edition. Princeton University Press, 2019.

Barberis, Nicholas, and Richard Thaler. A survey of behavioral finance. in “Handbook of the Economics of Finance”, Vol.1B, Constantinides, G.M., and Milton H., Elsevier 2003.

Barberis, Nicholas. Psychology-based Models of Asset Prices and Trading Volume (Working Paper No. 24723). National Bureau of Economic Research. https://www.nber.org/papers/w24723

The lecture notes will be updated the day before each class on the course’s e-learning platform: https://virtuale.unibo.it/course/view.php?id=40236

Metodi didattici

Teaching will combine participation in mock-experiments, active on-line learning exercises, and traditional lecturing. Attending classes is not compulsory but highly recommended, as participation in the classroom experiments and discussions is meant to help students’ understanding of the topics of the course.

Modalità di verifica e valutazione dell'apprendimento

The final exam aims at verifying the acquisition of the following learning outcomes:

— basic knowledge of the methodology of experimental economics;

— understanding of the main differences between the predictions of the standard neoclassical model and the alternative predictions of behavioral models.

— ability to apply behavioral models to interpret and predict behavior in simple frameworks.

Students will be assessed based on their performance in a written and oral final exam, which will include a set of questions covering both the mathematical/analytical aspects of the models discussed in class and their interpretation. The first part of the exam will be held in the computer lab. Questions will be randomly extracted from a predefined set, so the exam content will be different for each student. The first part of the exam will contain multiple-choice questions and exercises with numerical answers. The second part of the exam is oral and includes open questions. Students will access the second part of the exam only if they pass the first part—which is automatically graded by the software.

In case online exams will be envisaged by the University of Bologna, the structure of the written exam is the same. The exam will be run through Zoom and Exams Online (EOL). Detailed instructions on how to manage and hand in the online exam are available on the course page on the VIRTUALE platform.

In the written part of the final exam, students may use calculators (but not other electronic devices), but they may not communicate with others, consult notes, books, or other written material. Any attempt to violate these rules will result in the student's exclusion from the exam.

The written part of the final exam lasts one hour. Students also have the option of taking two midterm exams. The structure of the full exam is simply the sum of the content of the two midterms.

The dates of the final exams are fixed and cannot be changed. Requests for additional dates will not be accepted.

The maximum grade in the final exam is 30 – and this also holds for the two midterm exams. In case the student takes the midterm exams, the final grade is given by the average of the grades obtained in the first and in the second midterm.

The grade is graduated as follows:
<18 failed
18-23 sufficient
24-27 good
28-30 very good

To get the “award” (30 cum laude) students will have to do a presentation on a topic of their choice, among those discussed in the course. The presentation can also contribute to the determination of the final grade, adding up to 2 bonus points to the grade obtained in the final exam. The presentation is not mandatory.

Grade rejection: students can reject the grade obtained at the exam only once. To this end, they must email a request to the instructor within the date set for registration. The instructor will confirm reception of the request within the same date.

Rejection is intended with respect to the whole exam, whose grade is the average of the grades obtained in the two midterms. If the grade is rejected, the student must retake the full exam (consisting of both parts). The only grade that can be rejected without any communication from the student is the one of the first midterm: in this case, the student can either take the second midterm or sit the full exam (thus losing the grade obtained in the first midterm).

Students sitting the first midterm can take the second midterm on the first examination date set for the full exam, right at the end of the integrated course, or on the following call. A student can sit the second midterm only once; if he/she fails or rejects the grade obtained, he/she will have to resit the full exam and will lose the grade obtained in the first midterm.

The bonus points from the presentation can be used again after the grade rejection, but are only valid in case the student passes the exam by February.

Strumenti a supporto della didattica

During the course, students will be involved in mock experiments, which should provide them with a more vivid idea of the issues to be examined later during the lecture, and active participation to the in-class discussion will be encouraged.

Attending the classes is not compulsory, but highly recommended.

Students will also be requested to constantly test their understanding of the basic concepts discussed in class by means of quizzes that will be published on the on-line e-learning platform (IOL) at the end of each week. Quizzes are not compulsory, can be retaken as many times as students wish, and will not be corrected. The tutor of the course will be available one hour per week to answer questions on the quizzes.

Orario di ricevimento

Consulta il sito web di Maria Bigoni


Lavoro dignitoso e crescita economica Città e comunità sostenibili Consumo e produzione responsabili Lotta contro il cambiamento climatico

L'insegnamento contribuisce al perseguimento degli Obiettivi di Sviluppo Sostenibile dell'Agenda 2030 dell'ONU.