In progress Economic behaviour, in particular entrepreneurship, and reward sensitivity

Reference:
ERIM PhD 2014 ESE S&E RT_PG

Abstract

In the last few decades the limitations of the traditional ‘homo economicus’ perspective have become clear and led to the development of the field ‘behavioural economics’ with ample room for psychological, cognitive and emotional effects. This project goes one step further and adds neuroscience to these effects. It focuses on the relation between psychology, psychiatry, neuroscience and entrepreneurs, especially entrepreneurial intentions and entrepreneurial success. It takes neurophysiological measures (obtained with electroencephalography (EEG)), DSM-based psychiatric symptoms scores, and (non DSM-based) personality traits as information to decide on profiles for entrepreneurs. We hypothesize that the intention to become an entrepreneur is driven by reward sensitivity, which can be measured using questionnaires, but also using EEG. Moreover, to be a successful entrepreneur, this reward sensitivity should be extended with the ability to inhibit. Therefore, a second main hypothesis of this project is that successful entrepreneurs are able to inhibit and thus control their responses upon being sensitive to reward.

Keywords

Economic behaviour, in particular entrepreneurship, and psychological markers

Time frame

2014 - 2018

Topic

Anecdotal evidence highlights the connection between psychological markers (i.e., validated psychiatric symptom scores) and occupational choice such as entrepreneurship. Scientific research is needed to identify solid relations and to embed them in occupational and psychological theory. Discovery of such relations can lead to new insights into the causal pathways underlying occupational choice, including the complex interplay with the environment. Thus, social scientists, including economists and psychologists, have begun to look to validated psychiatric symptom scores and to apply them outside the clinical realm. The overall aim of this new interdisciplinary research field is to address the following questions:

  1. Can particular validated psychiatric symptom scores be associated with occupational choice like entrepreneurship?
  2. Which validated psychiatric symptom scores are the best predictors?
  3. How does the environment of individual traits moderate the effects?
  4. How can insights be integrated into the fields of occupational choice and psychology?
  5. Are there consequences for physical and mental well-being (happiness)? A mismatch between the real occupational choice and the one predicted by a psychological profile may be detrimental to one’s well-being (the so-called ‘stress’ or ‘imbalance’ hypothesis.
  6. Can neurocognitive techniques (such as EEG) help us identify relevant psychological markers for specific economic behaviours? Can we evaluate this particular marker, by means of EEG and, ultimately, improve our understanding of the relation between the marker and the occupational choice like entrepreneurship?

The PhD candidates will address one or several of these research questions in projects that will focus on one or several occupational choice variables, such as entrepreneurship and one or several validated psychiatric symptom scores such as ADHD, narcissism, dyslexia, addictions, etc.

Supervisory Team

Ingmar Franken
Ingmar Franken
  • Promotor
Patrick Groenen
Professor of Statistics
  • Promotor
Roy Thurik
Professor of Economics and Entrepreneurship
  • Copromotor