Behavioural Economics vs Behavioural Science: A Comparison - Market Research & Behaviour analytics

Behavioural Economics vs Behavioural Science: A Comparison

ByHimanshu Vashishtha

Behavioural Economics vs Behavioural Science: A Comparison

The modern times have made market research extremely intricate along with innovative industry, which draws influences from various external disciplines with additional layers of profound understanding to the insights generated. Although few disciplines can seem quite similar, even after varied focus. 


Behavioural science and behavioural economics are not only similar words but two such disciplines which often lead to confusion and misunderstandings.


Behavioural Science vs. Behavioural Economics:


Behavioural Science‘ – is a broad umbrella term that refers to all social and biological studies into human behaviour,which also includes sociology, cultural anthropology, psychology, neuroscience, etc. This vast discipline is close to the scientific research academic side, which gathers data on human behaviour solely for the sake of knowing, having some paths constantly stomped into applied science.


Whereas, Behavioural Economics is a narrow study that researches and describes economic decision-making. These studies in comparison to normative theory reveal that we are much less rational, stable, and selfish. It’s mostly believed that behavioural economics is a sub-science under the umbrella of behavioural science, methodologies are used which are usually derived and influenced by the social psychology of behavioural science studies. Behavioural economics is a development emphasising consumers and businesses particularly, with behavioural science techniques and exploring the science behind human decision-making in actual, commercial and organizational environments.


Behavioural Science Methodologies and Insights

Behavioural science methodologies use psychological techniques in order to understand the various aspects of human behaviour, such as:

  • Establishing and cementing various kinds of connections
  • The life and death of societal establishments
  • The differences between individual behaviour and group behaviour, and each once correlating influences
  • The language and communication evolution in numerous countries and eras

The results of this give a basic understanding of human behaviour along with past, present, and future influences. But this isn’t limited to business or market research. Behavioural science insights and methodologies need to be adjusted before we can utilize them to gain a profound understanding of our consumer-participants. from marketing to technology to entertainment, everyone is using these insights and methodological techniques adapting it to their own field Inorder to meet the demands of consumers.

Behavioural Economics Methodologies and Insights

Behavioural economics studies, what motivates people to do certain things in a particular way. In theory, once you are aware about the values of an individual consumer, and their situations, its possible to predict the actions that individual consumer will take using Behavioural economics models .

Let’s consider an example: models such as ‘Prospect Theory‘ by Tversky and Daniel Kahneman (which earned them a Nobel prize) explains how people make decisions between options involved with risk and uncertainty. This model is based on the biased considering probabilities and is progressed through forming risky choices in a peculiar way. This in contrary fashion means that we will consistently aim to maximise our gains and minimise our losses, at times compromising on our personal  goals in order to get what we want, a common assumption we can make.

In our day to day life, there are a series of factors that influence each decision we make, and for each factor there are a series of variables influencing that factor. These models provide a basic ‘if this then that’, but ‘if that then this’ programmatical understanding to human behaviour. 

If you want a more in-depth understanding of behavioural economics, then you must read Danial Kahneman’s ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’, which gives you a deeper insight into the theory of framing decisions in the psychology of choice, the concept  of utility, and the behavioural economics principles.

“The best we can do is compromise: learn to recongise situations in which mistakes are likely and try harder to avoid significant mistakes when the stakes are high.” — Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow

Applying Behavioural Science and Economics Insights in MRX

Almost all of the techniques in behavioural science and economics involve evaluating the participants’ boundaries, which influence them so as to understand their behaviours and motivations . Although there may be a few techniques that are unquestionably useful to the development of market research, most of the techniques would be adverse to the generation of unbiased data and precise insights.

As explored by Kahneman and Tversky, The Framing Effect is extremely helpful to consider when devising questions in market research projects. However, while  framing questions, we must ponder about the ethics attached to our motivations and actions.

  • Are we framing this in a method that’s objective instead of being subjective? 
  • Will this prompt a specific variety of answer?
  • Are we unintentionally influencing the end result of our research by framing our questions within the right way, or just expanding the minds of participants to think about another side to the reasoning in their answer?

Two behavioural psychology techniques are priming and confirmation biases; the previous engages participants in a very before task or individuals exposure to certain stimulus before the major event so as to influence their performance, while the latter occurs plenty focused groups where participants seek validation from others that their insight into the world is true, and can re-examine supported by the majority consensus.

However, both the subjects could appear a bit complex initially, understanding how behavioural science and economics overlap, and the way this fits (or not) into the routine workings of market research is crucial in the industry due to its considerable influence.

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