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The Research Unit in Behavioural Economics and Neuroeconomics (RUBEN) is a group of researchers who use the methodology of economic experiments, both in the lab and in the field, to examine the role that social, cognitive, and emotional factors play in economic decision-making.

RUBEN serves as an anchor in Africa around which to concentrate training, research leadership, and technical resources in the use of economic lab experiments, and the application of principles of behavioural economics in programme design and implementation more broadly, for the benefit of researchers throughout the continent.

The research programme of RUBEN is varied, including work on health; environment; social preferences and intergroup contact; risk preferences, time preferences, and information; experiments in policy making; and methodological issues. See Research.

A key aspect of RUBEN activity is training in behavioural and experimental methods. The Unit’s goal is to develop expertise in Africa, among Africans, to study the problems of Africa. RUBEN hosts training workshops for scholars from the rest of the continent, as well as for public and private sector parties. The Unit hosts a lunchtime seminar series which provides a forum for the experimental and behavioural work being conducted by the Unit’s associates and their collaborators, as well as graduate students, to be presented. See Training and Seminars. In addition, the Unit provides scholarship support and funds running costs for a number of postgraduate students who have completed postgraduate theses using economic experiments.

Since its launch in 2011, RUBEN has had a close, collaborative relationship with the Center for the Economic Analysis of Risk (CEAR) at Georgia State University in the US. This relationship was formalised in 2016 by an agreement that RUBEN and CEAR signed to establish CEAR Africa under the School of Economics at UCT. CEAR Africa provides a formal channel through which RUBEN and CEAR collaborate to fund and supervise students, run training and research workshops, facilitate academic exchanges, and conduct joint research projects. The Research Director of CEAR Africa is Prof. Glenn W. Harrison who is the Director of CEAR at GSU. For more information about the Center for the Economic Analysis of Risk, please visit their website.