Decision making is the cornerstone of the social sciences. The processes that drive human behaviour are fundamental, not only for individual choices and personal well-being, but they are of foremost importance for our understanding of human interaction and, hence, for the organisation of society as a whole. The social science disciplines, namely, economics, political science, psychology and sociology, are all based on distinct and often conflicting assumptions about human behaviour. In fact, there are frequent discrepancies between the behavioural assumptions in social science modelling approaches and the findings of experimental studies. At the same time, many of the important social issues, such as education, discrimination, migration or inequality, are analysed in several disciplines separately. For a comprehensive understanding of decision making and its consequences for economic and political outcomes, a multidisciplinary research approach, as provided by the Graduate School of Decision Sciences, is therefore essential.
The Graduate School encompasses researchers from a diverse range of disciplines, including economics and finance, computer science, political science, social and cognitive psychology, sociology and statistics. However, instead of being organised along traditional disciplinary borders, the Graduate School concentrates on four broadly defined research areas.
At the centre of the Graduate School is Area A: Behavioural Decision Making. Researchers in this area, who specialise in behavioural economics, microeconomics, sociology and psychology, broadly explore the foundations of human decision processes.
Emanating from this area are two research areas that deal with specific applications of decision and behavioural research. On the one hand, individual decisions, particularly those made over longer planning horizons, are mostly relevant to applications in economics and finance. Researchers from these fields are active in Area B: Intertemporal Choice and Markets.
On the other hand, collective decisions are the keystone for research in political science and political economy. Researchers from these fields are represented in Area C: Political Decisions and Institutions.
Since all researchers of the Graduate School apply various tools to generate and analyse data, Area D: Information Processing and Statistical Analysis supports the other three research areas and encompasses those researchers with a more methodological orientation.
The four research areas of the Graduate School are not isolated from one another. Instead, there are various linkages between them that will be exploited in the development of innovative research questions to be tackled by students enrolled in the Graduate School. Many of the School’s faculty members are naturally assigned to two of the research areas, which reflect their specialisation and interests.