1. Research Objective

The research of the GSBS investigates behaviour from both the micro and macro perspective. At the micro level, research questions address determinants and processes, which guide individual behaviour. At the macro level, questions on decision making in collectives are explored, for instance, in groups, markets, societies or political organisations. Since biology is also included in the GSBS, research not only concerns human behaviour, but also the behaviour of non-human animals.

The combination of eight disciplines and three interdisciplinary specialisations in the GSBS provides the basis for fascinating synergies, as similar research questions are addressed from different perspectives. For instance, framing is particularly investigated in psychology and linguistics, but it also finds applications in economics and political science. The topic of culture attracts the interest of diverse fields including biology, sociology or economics. Likewise, the emergence of institutions is relevant to such fields as political science, sociology and economics. Synergies also emerge from sharing methods, such as statistical methods and methods for data collection. The GSBS provides coursework in the respective fields, interdisciplinary courses are taught by lecturers from different fields and courses are offered concerning the necessary methods.

2. Research Disciplines

In the following, we give a short description of how the disciplines relate to the GSBS.

A. Faculty of Sciences

A1. Biology

In biology, the fields of behavioural biology and ecology are the most relevant fields to the GSBS, as they relate to the specialisation “Collective Behaviour”. This specialisation provides an interdisciplinary background, which covers behavioural methods for different disciplines, including disciplines that investigate collective behaviour in humans.

A2. Physics

Statistical mechanics provide a valuable toolbox for the investigation of collectives, not only with respect to particles, but also regarding live beings in collectives, such as swarms or other forms of groups. For this reason, physics is part of the Cluster “Collective Behaviour” and for doctoral students in this domain, the GSBS, with the specialisation “Collective Behaviour”, is a good choice.

A3. Psychology

As the science of human behaviour, psychology is also part of the GSBS. Particularly social and cognitive psychology combine very well with the specialisation “Decision Sciences” of the GSBS. As psychology is involved in both clusters “Collective Behaviour” and “The Politics of Inequality”, the specialisations “Collective Behaviour” and “Inequality” of the GSBS are also possible.

A4. Statistics

Statistics is a key method for all empirical sciences, including the social and behavioural sciences. Statistics supplies valuable methods courses for the GSBS. Furthermore, the GSBS provides a suitable environment for doctoral students in statistics, who investigate applications in the social and behavioural sciences.

B. Faculty of Humanities

B1. Linguistics

Linguistics is the science of language. It studies human language ability, its manifestations in particular languages and in actual use. Linguistics is thus one of the cognitive sciences and, in this respect, part of the GSBS. Linguistics is also a key discipline of the Cluster “The Politics of Inequality”. Therefore, linguistics is ideally combined with the specialisation “Inequality” of the GSBS.

B 2. Sociology

Sociology, the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society, is active in both clusters “Collective Behaviour” and “The Politics of Inequality”. It is also active in the methodological area of the specialisation “Decision Sciences”. Thus, sociology can easily be combined with all three specialisations of the GSBS: “Collective Behaviour”, “Decision Sciences” and “Inequality”.

C. Faculty of Politics, Law and Economics

C1. Economics

The GSDS provides a traditional doctoral programme in economics, with key training in advanced microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics, along with the main research areas of behavioural economics, macroeconomics, public economics, and finance and econometrics. In addition, economics combines very well with all interdisciplinary specialisations of the GSBS (“Collective Behaviour”, “Decision Sciences” and “Inequality”).

C2. Political Science and Public Administration

The GSBS includes the disciplinary doctoral programme of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration. Since political science is the central discipline of the Cluster “The Politics of Inequality”, the specialisation “Inequality” of the GSBS will be a frequent choice in this discipline.

3. Specialisations

The following three interdisciplinary specialisations offer a programme that is suited for doctoral students with an interdisciplinary orientation, in particular, for those who are active in the clusters “Collective Behaviour” or “The Politics of Inequality”.

D. Collective Behaviour

The goal of the Cluster “Collective Behaviour” is to uncover the fundamental principles that underlie collective behaviour – in a range of organisms and across scales of organisation – and to translate this knowledge into real-world solutions that will bring about positive impacts worldwide. The scholars from biology, physics, psychology, sociology, economics, computer science, and mathematics work together to pursue this common goal. The Cluster’s research agenda covers many species, including humans, concerns a large range of scales and addresses various topics from swarm formation to the evolution of culture. Specifically, the joint research seeks to quantitatively measure collective behaviour by considering the actions, traits and states of individuals, the structures they form and in which they interact, as well as the environmental issues to which they are subjected and which they create. In the specialisation “Collective Behaviour” of the GSBS, training and research topics for doctoral students are linked to the research agenda of the Cluster “Collective Behaviour”.

E. Decision Sciences

The specialisation “Decision Sciences” of the GSBS focuses on interdisciplinary research regarding human decision making. The disciplines economics, political science and psychology constitute the main focus of the specialisation and the complementary disciplines sociology and statistics are also involved. The specialisation covers the following areas: Area (A) “Behavioural Decision Making” explores the foundations of human decision processes. Area (B) “Intertemporal Choice and Markets” investigates applications of decision and behavioural research. It has a particular focus on decisions with a longer planning horizon, which are mostly relevant to applications in economics and finance. Area (C) “Political Decisions and Institutions” studies collective decisions, which are the keystone for research in political science and political economy. Area (D) on “Information Processing and Statistical Analysis” supports the other three research areas with tools to generate and analyse data. Training and research topics for doctoral students relate to the specialisation “Decision Sciences” of the GSBS.

F. Inequality

Doctoral students pursuing the “Inequality” specialisation of the GSBS will receive interdisciplinary doctoral training linked to the research fields and agendas of the Excellence Cluster “The Politics of Inequality” and will be integrated into the Cluster. The Cluster brings together researchers from political science, sociology, economics, linguistics, psychology, law and education studies to investigate inequality in areas such as education, income and wealth, and participation rights. The goal is to study the cycle that is formed by the perception of unequally distributed resources, the political mobilisation resulting from perceived inequality, the policy measures undertaken to deal with them, and their impact on the underlying distribution of resources. The Cluster thus has three primary Research Areas: “Perceptions” studies subjective perceptions of inequality and to what extent they are related to objective measures, as well as to policy preferences and attitudes. “Participation” investigates the conditions under which subjective preferences are related to inequality trigger processes of political mobilisation, contribute to the rise of social movements, or change the dynamics of party competition. Finally, “Policies” studies the potentially selective responsiveness of policy-making to public demands, party politics or interest groups, as well as how policies affect and impact structural inequality.

Doctoral Positions at the Excellence Cluster "The Politics of Inequality"