Welcome to the GREPS’ website at the University of Geneva. For those who are interested in our work, we are pleased to introduce our ongoing projects and past published studies. To summarize our research interests, we borrowed Barack Obama’s definition of behavioral insights: How people make decisions and act on them. Action initiation and execution is a centuries-old fascinating question for philosophers, and, more recently, for psychologists, economists, sociologists, anthropologists and neuroscientists, grouped under the heading "behavioral scientists". A lot of knowledge has been accumulated, from striatum’s role in the brain to how social norms and culture shape behavior. Our work aims to integrate action initiation and execution in a large sequence where distant variables, such as culture, external pressure or education, shape beliefs, decision and implementation, resulting into action. Thus, our approach is clearly based on socio-cognitive tradition and on concepts such as beliefs, motivation, decision-making, planned behavior or goal-directed behavior. Our research methods are empirical, going from large scale inquiries to lab-based experiments or fMRI studies.
Basic mechanisms of action initiation and execution are echoed in actual social problems such as health or pro-environmental behaviors: Smoking cessation, body mass control, physical exercise, blood donation, risk taking, recycling behavior or water preservation are few examples of actual societal challenges which share a common feature: being strongly based on people's decision and motivation. Thus, the understanding of basic determinants of behavior has important application in "real life" problems. When possible, we try to embed our basic research into relevant actual questions.
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Olivier Desrichard, Professor