The University of Chicago


Human beings are social animals. Our social environments shape almost every choice we make, from everyday actions to big decisions with long-lasting consequences. What occupation we pursue, how we invest our money, whether and whom we marry, whom we vote for—each of these are deeply influenced by the people around us and the norms of our society, just as our actions, in turn, shape these norms.

Understanding this interplay is key to understanding the most important political, social, and economic issues of our time, from political polarization to educational inequities to gender gaps in labor markets.

At The Normal Lab, we believe economics research—and the policies and solutions it inspires—must consider the interplay between individuals and their social environments.

Under the leadership of University of Chicago Professor Leonardo Bursztyn, the Lab’s work combines the rich toolbox of economics—from observational data analysis to field experiments to theory—with insights from psychology, anthropology, and other fields.

The Normal Lab celebrates research that asks unexpected questions, breaks down disciplinary silos, and refuses to be limited to standard methodologies and ways of thinking.

We go beyond the “normal” questions. We go beyond the “normal” methods. We want to understand human behavior. We want to understand what is “normal” in a given society, why it is, and how it shapes people’s choices.

Most importantly, we want to generate insights that lead to policies and solutions that allow people to live more fulfilling lives.

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