We can hear readers say: “There are already so many think tanks – do we really need another one?” Our answer, of course, is a confident ‘yes’. In our view, recent advances in emerging fields of study, such as behavioural economics and neuropsychology, will have large implications for many sectors, be it for policy makers, lawyers or managers. We believe that current insights will completely change the way in which we look at decision making.
Fortunately, we are not alone with this belief. The professional services firm EY (formerly Ernst & Young) have identified the ‘Behavioural revolution’ as one of their so-called megatrends for the year 2016. This is what EY say on their website:
„Incentives to act rationally are all around us – from legal restrictions to the ways in which companies price goods and motivate workers. The vast majority of these enticements and impositions assume that people are utility-maximizing rational agents who act in their best interests. Except, as behavioral economics (BE) demonstrates, we aren’t.“
While we generally agree with the above statement, our approach to tackle this revolution is slightly different. So please allow us to introduce you to the Rational Think Tank, providing behavioral insights for the business, legal and public sector. Our aim is to empower people to become more rational. We gather, assess and discuss resources on behavioural economics, neuropsychology and decision theory that could be of interest to business, law firms, public institutions and, not least, to students planning to work in one of these areas. The goal is to create the platform of choice for anyone with a desire to improve his or her decisions – and have some fun at the same time.
So what is Rational Thinking? There are many (different) ways to define ‘rationality’ (to get an overview, click here). Our focus, however, is set on enabling individuals or groups to make their decisions or to form their beliefs in an unbiased manner. Scientists have shown that humans are often affected by cognitive biases, i.e., basic errors in thinking that deviate from standards of reason (Kahneman, 2011). While these errors occur unconsciously, the good news is that they are to some extent predictable (Ariely, 2010). The Rational Think Tank’s main purpose is to help you detect and overcome your cognitive errors and, thus, make more rational decisions.
If you would like to improve your decision-making and become (more) rational, you already made the first good choice by visiting our website and we would like to thank you for your interest in our work. The next step will be to read through our most recent posts in order to get a better understanding of the different biases and the appropriate means to overcome them.
It goes without saying that we do not want you to ignore your intuitions. Rationalists are not seeking to become a human robot. On the contrary, there is evidence suggesting that people, in particular experts in their fields, can be good intuitive decision makers (Kahneman & Klein, 2009). The only thing is that you have to know when it is safe to follow your intuition. Want to learn more? Then stay tuned and, of course, feel free to sign up for our newsletter!
We, the Interim Chairmen of the Advisory Board and of the Managing Board respectively, welcome you on behalf of all members and authors of the Rational Think Tank. We invite you to browse our website and actively participate. Please send us any comments or questions you may have. We look forward to hearing from you!
Christian Tenkhoff works as an Associate in the Trade Marks & Designs Department of international law firm Taylor Wessing in Munich.
Philip J. Hattemer is in his second year at Bucerius Law School. Before University, he has been trained to be a Hypnotist and partly trained in Neurolinguistic Programming. In this time his penchant for psychology led him into Rational Thinking.
(Photo courtesy of Phil Roeder)