Research unit Economics of Change
David Ausserhofer
Research unit
Main content

Why do people act change their behavior from day to the next? As large as the number of specific reasons for behavioral change may be, in the end they can be grouped into four categories. The four basic types of explanations are: 1) because they have learnt something new about how the world functions, that is, about the relation between actions and consequences; 2) because the consequences of their actions have changed themselves; 3) because their aims have changed; and 4) because their experience teaches them to try out new ways.

All four categories can be translated into economic concepts that postulate behavioral changes when there are changes 1) in expectations, 2) in incentives, 3) in preferences, or when 4) decision makers use learning rules in order to adapt their behavior.

Orthodox (“neoclassic”) economists confined themselves to the study of beliefs and incentives, strictly assuming the rationality of all decision makers. Modern behavioral economists relax these assumptions when investigating beliefs and incentives and study adaptation of preferences and the role of bounded rational learning rules. The program of the research unit “Economics of Change” is built on all four basic mechanisms of change. It is part of the broader behavioral economics movement that has been changing the field of economics for over thirty years.

The research fellows of the unit are mainly interested in dynamic processes. How do decision makers adapt to new circumstances? How do they create new circumstances? General (micro-) economic mechanisms of change are identified and linked to a broad range of applications relevant to society, from fostering pro-social behavior, to entrepreneurship and political economy.

David Ausserhofer
David Ausserhofer

Gebhard Glock (office)

Fon: 030 25 491 420
Fax: (030) 254 91 423
Email: gebhard.glock [at]

Reichpietschufer 50
D-10785 Berlin

New research articles

Nudging cooperation in public goods provision. Kai Barron and Tuomas Nurminen in Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics

Belief updating. Does the 'Good-News, Bad-News' asymmetry extend to purely financial domains? Kai Barron in Experimental Economics

Games played through agents in the laboratory — a test of Prat & Rustichini's model. Ludwig Ensthaler et al. in Games and Economic Behavior


“Good Men Don’t Understand” - An Evening with Tom Fontana and Jörg Winger

TV, Economics and Society - A WZB series organized by Steffen Huck, Sir Peter Jonas, Anna Winger, and Jörg Winger.

“S’all good, man!” An Evening with Jenn Carroll, Gordon Smith, and Anna Winger

TV, Economics and Society - A WZB series organized by Steffen Huck, Sir Peter Jonas, Anna Winger, and Jörg Winger.

Research in context

Economist Kai Barron talks about his research on beliefs and expectations.

German Design Award für Double Shift-Projekt
German Design Award für Double Shift-Projekt


Website has won the Red Dot Design Award, category "Best of the Best", the W³ AWARD as Gold Winner Visual Appeal/ Aesthetics and Silver Winner Science, the German Design Award, category Excellent Communication Design/ Web, as well as the iF Design Award, discipline Communications, category Websites.

Reading recommendation

Jana Friedrichsen and Steffen Huck (Eds.):

Nicht-Orte der Fleischindustrie – Fakten und Hintergründe zum Schlachten in Deutschland, Selbstverlag, 2018 (in German).

The booklet can be ordered at wzb [at]

National Research Data Infrastructure

The Consortium for the Social, Behavioural, Educational and Economic Sciences (KonsortSWD) as a founding consortium of the National Research Data Infrastructur (NFDI) will be funded by the Joint Science Conference (Gemeinsame Wissenschaftskonferenz – GWK). Dr. Maja Adena, WZB, will serve as a co-speaker.

The mission of KonsortSWD is to strengthen, expand and deepen the infrastructure for research on society and the economy. As a particularly important task, KonsortSWD will support the scientific communities in establishing ethical standards for data collection and research.