If you were unable to attend the conference, but would like to find out more please contact Alan Denbigh at the University of Exeter: alan.denbigh@exeter.ac.uk.

Exeter event examines how and why we spend money

It has never been more important to understand how we behave in the presence of money. More than 250 of the world’s experts in economic psychology and behavioural economics have been sharing the latest research and thinking at an international conference hosted by the University of Exeter.

The conference, titled Where Psychology and Economics Meet was held at the University of Exeter from 12 to 16 July. Through presentations and keynote speeches from leaders in the field, it addressed a range of big questions facing anyone interested in how we behave around money: What happens to community relations in times of recession? How are spending decisions affected when we are under stress, feeling low or depressed? Do private investors shy away from green investments because they are supported by government? Does encouraging adolescents to save have a long term impact in adulthood?  How do students feel now that they are consumers of education?

Researchers, students and business people from all continents and as far away as New Zealand attended the event. 

Professor Russell Belk of York University, Toronto spoke on the subject of ‘The Digital Consumer’. He told the audience that while we had originally expected digital technology to give us a means of controlling things, human factors such as ‘a sense of community’, ‘a sense of fun’ and ‘enchantment’ were now speeding its update.

University of Exeter Professor of Social and Organisational Psychology Alex Haslam told delegates it was how we see our relationship to the many groups we are part of, whether as a family, a commuter, or member of a company, which strongly influence our willingness to pay for a product.

Dr Molly Crocket from the University of Zurich explained how the levels of neurochemicals present in the brain, which are linked to wellbeing or stress, can affect the economic decisions we make.

Professor Stephen Lea of the University of Exeter organised the conference with colleagues from the University of Exeter’s Psychology department and Business School.  Professor Lea also presented his research on the difference it makes when transactions that were previously arranged socially start being paid for with money. He said: “It was fascinating to hear the latest discoveries from the world’s top economic psychologists and behavioural economists. During a recession the link between economic affairs and human emotions, behaviour and relations is particularly relevant. Events like this are an important way of sharing research findings and forging links for future collaborations.”

A social programme meant that delegates also had an opportunity to experience the delights of Exeter, including enjoying a glimpse of the Devon coast and countryside from a boat trip on the Exe estuary.

The conference was organised under the auspices of the umbrella organisation ICABEEP - The International Confederation for the Advancement of Behavioral Economics and Economic Psychology. The organisers are grateful for financial support from the Bank of England.

Anyone who was unable to attend the conference, but who would like to find out more, can contact Alan Denbigh at the University of Exeter: alan.denbigh@exeter.ac.uk

Date: 21 July 2011

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