CMU's Research Cafe: a living behavioral economics lab that serves tasty snacks

The Carnegie Mellon Research Café isn't just a cafe — it's also part of the Social and Decision Sciences Department, and its wares aren't just tasty snacks; they're also props in a series of ongoing behavioral economics experiments in choice theory and other subjects.

Topics include trust and fairness; memory and decision making; how people decide to save or spend; how to reduce obesity; public health issues like diet, exercise and smoking; privacy; perceptions of inflation; managerial decision making; and dynamic decision processes.

Loewenstein, who is on the CBDR steering committee, says their research is inherently more accessible than, for example, a hard science like physics or chemistry or even medical research.

"Everyone has had to deal with the types of issues we research — like why people eat unhealthy foods and how to help people to save more for retirement, or what makes us happy or trust others," he said. "As a social sciences department, people are our research. Without them we simply couldn't continue."

Behavioral Café

(Thanks, Marilyn!)