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Traditional economists would have us believe that people are rational, utility-maximising, cost-minimising and socially isolated individuals with stable preferences. This view also pervades market research and our practices, but is being challenged by a relatively new field in the social sciences, known as Behavioural Economics (BE). This paper provides a new framework for understanding BE and identifies some of the influences on behaviour the research industry regularly overlooks. It shows how BE has been used to develop a new mass ethnographic approach – The Behavioural Detectives.

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