New research centre open: Bringing psychology into business research

Aarhus BSS’ new research centre ‘Centre for Integrative Business Psychology’ is now officially open. Researchers from the fields of psychology, management and economics are to conduct basic research within topics such as sustainability, consumer behaviour, nudging and business ethics.

Centre Director Stefan Pfattheicher. Photo: Ida Marie Jensen, AU Photo.
The leadership team of the centre consists of (from the left) Mette Trier Damgaard, Panatiogis Mitkidis, and Stefan Pfattheicher. Photo: Ida Marie Jensen, AU Foto.

For about 40 years, a particular group of economists have tried to challenge traditional economic models which are based on the idea that financially speaking, human beings act in a rational way. With the help of psychological research methods, these behavioural economists have demonstrated that human choices and actions are guided by emotions, external influences and biases.

In this way, psychology and economics have been merging within a particular area of research for years, but still they never quite met completely. Now, these two disciplines will unite at Aarhus BSS in the Centre for Integrative Business Psychology, which consists of researchers from the Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, the Department of Management and the Department of Economics and Business Economics.

“Psychologists and behavioural economists take different approaches to answering the same questions or working on the same topics. For this reason, it makes a lot of sense to bring these disciplines closer together,” says Stefan Pfattheicher, who is the director of the new centre and associate professor at the Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, Aarhus BSS.

Department head Jan Tønnesvang considers it natural as well as a piece of good news that the centre will be located at the Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences.

“Seeing as it is primarily a question of bringing psychology into business research, it is natural for the centre to be based here. To start with, the centre will gather and develop research which is currently done at the individual departments, but in the long term, the centre will also aim to draw on practice in relation to companies and management,” says Jan Tønnesvang.

Initially, the centre will focus on four key topics which are already subjects of research at Aarhus BSS and which hold questions related to both psychology and business.

An example is consumer behaviour, for years a subject of intensive research among researchers from the MAPP centre at the Department of Management. An important question in consumer behaviour is the significance of memory, and researchers from the CON AMORE centre at the Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences have conducted research into autobiographical memory for a number of years.

The remaining three topics are: Behavioural biases and nudging, sustainability, and business ethics. But this will not prevent more topics from entering the scene in the future or exclude research and researchers from other departments from participating.

“The establishment of this centre reflects our wish to combine the idea that decisions are based on rational deliberations with the more emotional thoughts, actions and ways that human beings understand the world,” says Stefan Pfattheicher. 

The Centre for Integrative Business Psychology is funded by the school Aarhus BSS and to the dean Thomas Pallesen, it represents a great wish now coming to life.

“By establishing the Centre for Integrative Business Psychology, we foster yet another connection that will tie Aarhus BSS together as a business school at Aarhus University, a place where business research and social sciences interlink, complement each other, learn from each other and inspire each other. This is exactly where we have a lot to offer, nationally as well as internationally,” says Thomas Pallesen.


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