Our New York office recently had the pleasure of hosting Paul Zak– our newest Affiliate and founding Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies and Professor of Economics, Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University. Zak is credited with the first published use of the term “neuroeconomics”. His work over the last decade has explored the powerful influence of oxytocin in affecting trust, morality and virtuous behaviors and his recent research applies neuroscience to improve marketing and consumer experiences as well as organizational performance. Before speaking to the ideas42 team about some of his preliminary work, Paul took the time to tell us some fascinating insights about the applications of neuroeconomics in his lab and the real world.
What drew you to the field of neuroeconomics?
I was drawn to neuroeconomics out of frustration. I really want to understand what human beings are doing yet economists had this sense that people were making mistakes but we didn’t know why. People would make decisions that, they themselves would say, is not best for them and they would label as ‘irrational’. In fact, our brain’s make decisions in very specific ways that allows us to survive, reproduce and so we really want to take a very humble approach to ask what’s going on in the brain while we make decisions in order to understand them without any overlay of good or bad. Lets just find out what brains are doing.