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Writing a Final Thesis

We offer the opportunity to write Bachelor or Master theses. However, please note that most of our topics (and the guidelines below) are primarily intended for Master theses.


For a Master thesis, we require that you have already acquired 50 ECTS in your Master studies and have successfully completed at least one course at our chair. If you want to work experimentally, we require that you have successfully completed the module Experimental Methods. Ideally, you should also have taken the modules Game Theory and Behavioral Economics or a seminar in the specialization field “Design and Behavior” and should ideally have chosen “Design and Behavior” as one of your specialization fields in the M.Sc. program.


If you are interested in writing a thesis at the chair, please hand in your application to office-behaveconSpamProtectionwiso.uni-koeln.de. There are two application dates per year and your application will automatically be considered for the next-closest date:

  • 15. March
  • 15. September

In your application, please include your current grade transcript, your CV and a short proposal of one page as one PDF file. In your proposal, you should briefly present an idea for a topic or research question you would like to work on in your Master thesis. This can still be fairly rough, but should indicate your interest and motivation for the topic and include a few papers on the topic that you consider important. If you already have a concrete idea for a research design, you can describe it, but this not a requirement. You should at least briefly sketch out the way you would ideally like to answer your research question, i.e. the methods (e.g. empirically, experimentally, theoretically). In case you would like to work experimentally/empirically, you can also go into more detail on what kind of data you would ideally like to collect. You can also name one other area/topic you are also potentially interested in - this is however optional and not a requirement. In case of a successful application, you will develop the specific question/topic for your Master thesis together with your supervisor. We will get back to you about one week after the application deadline.

Important: Please note that the capacities of our chair are limited. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the success of your application!

The Thesis

Generally, your final thesis should prove your ability to work on a research question independently and with scientific rigor. Further, we encourage you to write your theses in a concise way, i.e., in the form of a scientific paper. Papers are usually shorter than classical theses and focus on the research question as specifically as possible. To ensure effective supervision the topic should (at least somewhat) relate to the field of Behavioral Economics. For more information, you can find below the research interests of the chair members who supervise theses, as well as topics of Master theses supervised in recent years.

Theses can be theoretical or empirical. In both cases we expect there to be some original contribution from you, rather than just a summary of the existing literature. This can be in the form of a re-analysis of an existing data set, an extension of an existing theoretical model, applying a theoretical model to a new question, etc. In certain cases, there is also the possibility to apply for grants that would allow you to collect data yourself, i.e. by running a laboratory experiment.

You can write your thesis either in English or in German, though we strongly encourage you to write it in English as in all likelihood the vast majority of the literature relevant to your topic will be in English anyway. You can find further information on how to structure and write a scientific paper below.

[Paper Guidelines]

Team Members Supervising Theses and their Research Interests

Dr. Susanna Grundmann

  • Honesty and Cheating
  • Fairness and Intention-based Reciprocity
  • Social Preferences and Social Image Concerns
  • Competition and Gender
  • Experimental Macro
  • Experimental Ehtics and Corruption

M.Sc. Lukas Reinhardt

  • Social Cohesion
  • Social Identity
  • Political Preferences
  • Cooperation and Conflict
  • (Behavioral) Political Economy

M.Sc. Sören Harrs

  • Preferences for Redistribution
  • Self-Image and Identity
  • Social Norm Interventions
  • Narratives and Belief Formation

Recent Theses

Nudging Sustainable Behaviour: Experimental Analysis of Voluntary Carbon Offsets

How the consequences for others affect intrinsic honesty

Eyes on me: An Analysis of the Relationship between Observability and Cheating

The Effects of the Timing of Ranking Feedback on Dishonesty - Experimental Evidence

The role of hyperbolic discounting and other-regarding preferences in climate action

Analysis of the effort of employess in a new work environment - a real effort experiment

Incentivizing sustainable consumption decisions - A natural field experiment on reducing disposable cup usage

The Role of Local and National Identities for Pro-environmental Behavior - A Field Experiment in India

Mental Accounting in Sustainable Consumption Choices

Incentivizing sustainable consumption decisions - A natural field experiment on reducing disposable cup usage

Do Backup Capacities Increase Electricity Consumption? An Experimental Study

How incentive schemes affect trade-offs between quality and quantity in workers’ effort

How Behavioral Economics Can Impact Savings Behavior: An Outlook for Private and Occupational Pension Systems in Germany.

Leading by Lying: The Effect of Managed Feedback on Cooperation.

Leadership: Sanctions, Cooperation and Happiness.

The Influence of Leadership Styles on Social Norms and Cooperation in Organizations.

How incentive schemes affect trade-offs between quality and quantity in workers' effort.

Procrastination: Future Discounting and Time-Inconsistent Learning Behavior.

Two-sided Platforms: Economic Modelling of Pricing and Competition in Internet Markets.

Pricing Strategies of Supply Chain Retailers.