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Reichman University’s Behavioral Economics Program: Navigating Human Behavior in Times of Crisis

Prof. Guy Hochman (Courtesy)

Human behavior takes center stage in times of crisis. Amid the “Swords of Iron” war, this aspect becomes even more crucial. Adhering to the directives of the Home Front Command and navigating the economic crisis stemming from the ongoing situation compel individuals to act against their usual habits and inclinations.

Seeking shelter during alarms, exiting vehicles promptly, handling unpaid leave, and cutting expenses—all these actions underscore the societal challenges, highlighting the necessity for a deeper comprehension of human behavior. This is precisely the focus of behavioral economics, a field that the MA in Behavioral Economics program at Reichman University seeks to explore.

But how does behavioral economics contribute during wartime? This emerging scientific discipline melds insights from economics and psychology to unravel the motivations and influences behind people’s decisions. Armed with this understanding, behavioral economists craft practical tools and interventions to guide individuals toward better and more adaptive choices. These tools include subtle environmental changes, like signage indicating the location of protected spaces, facilitating access during alarms, even in unfamiliar places, and financial
management aids to navigate price hikes and income reductions.

Students in our MA in Behavioral Economics program receive a robust theoretical foundation in economics and psychology. Simultaneously, they acquire practical tools designed to enhance decision-making processes for individuals and organizations. The program’s social orientation fosters engagement with Israeli society, addressing the growing need to formulate public policies and interventions that enhance resilience and mitigate the social impacts of war.

During the initial weeks of the war, students from our program, alongside faculty members, spearheaded various initiatives. These initiatives aimed to enhance the personal resilience of international students at the University and assist organizations in tackling economic challenges.

The program’s faculty and I led research projects addressing the economic crisis. This research informs policymakers about designing interventions and campaigns that promote suitable behavior to bolster resilience. The challenges post-war are abundant, and our MA program in Behavioral Economics encourages student and faculty initiatives to address them. Guided by our faculty, students gain hands-on experience in behavioral interventions, leading projects to help people cope with anxiety, mental stress, and financial difficulties. This practical approach
aims to enable Israeli society to resume normal life efficiently.

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