The Behavioral and Experimental Economics group has an influential position in this field in the Netherlands and Europe. CREED, the Amsterdam-based group, focuses particularly on three main projects: economics of political decision making; bounded rationality and institutions and experimental economics. The research of the Rotterdam-based group focuses on two broad themes: decision under risk and uncertainty and intertemporal choice.
Collective action sometimes seems to appear from nowhere. For instance, large protests against a particular regime suddenly bring onto the streets thousands of people as during the Arabic Spring. Although the synchronization of actions and the outburst as such might come as a surprise, it is not uncommon that a `sentiment’ against the regime has already been building up under the surface for quite some time. This theme investigates how these sentiments work and in what way the architecture of interaction between people – the social network – influences sudden outbreaks. This class of phenomena is broad, including riot behavior, innovation and rumor diffusion, strikes, consumption network externalities, spread of fashions, migration, sentiments on financial markets, runs on banks, etc. Since communication in society occurs in networks, we investigate what kind of networks tend to display higher volatility in collective action than others.
On a micro level, the question is how to measure the influence of groups of actors to initiate mass-mobilization in a structured society. For example, in reactions to fire alarms, strikes, voting, migration, or diffusion of innovation, it can be instructive to know the most influential individuals. With some information on the social network and threshold distribution, a social planner, a political party, or a firm’s management may be able to actively address the most influential individuals and thus help to prevent or to stimulate action in a given context. This leads to the research question how a policy maker can control or at least influence collective action in a structured society.