UCL Institute for Global Prosperity


Book launch: Copycats and Contrarians by Michelle Baddeley

2:00 pm to 7:00 pm, 19 September 2018


IGP Visiting Professor Michelle Baddeley to host a panel discussion and workshop for the launch of Copycats and Contrarians: Why We Follow Others... and When We Don't

Event Information

Open to





Institute for Global Prosperity


G07 Exhibition Room
Pearson Building
Gower Street
United Kingdom

Please join us for the book launch of Copycats and Contrarians: Why We Follow Others... and When We Don't by Institute for Global Prosperity Visiting Professor and leading behavioural economist Professor Michelle Baddeley

Copycats and Contrarians is a multidisciplinary exploration of our human inclination to herd and why our instinct to copy others can be dangerous in today's interlinked world.

To celebrate the release of the book, the Institute for Global Prosperity will be hosting academic workshops about insights from behavioural economics, entitled Capturing Choices in Life and Work, and Rethinking Value, the broad subject from which Copycats and Contrarians derives. Then from 17:45 we will have a panel discussion open to everyone around the themes of the book. 

"A wide-ranging cross-disciplinary perspective of why we run with - or avoid - the crowd, and why it matters, from choosing a restaurant in a tourist trap to believing fake news. I learned a lot, and you may too." - Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist

"Baddeley is a truly exceptional scholar, with terrific writing skills and real originality...this might well become the defining book, for this decade and more, on the topic of herding and social influence." - Cass Sunstein, co-author of Nudge



14:00 - 16:30

Capturing Choices in Life and Work

14:00 - 15:15

This session will explore how choice and behaviour interact to drive everyday decision-making - focussing on labour market and employment decisions. Standard economic models of decision-making are being re-thought by social scientists, including behavioural economists and economic psychologists. Key themes discussed will include how choice can be captured empirically; how complex social and institutional influences - for example the introduction of automation - limit labour supply choices; and what policy-makers can do about it - including new initiatives around a new "New Deal" for employment in the 21st century. 

Dr Kumar Aniket, Research Associate: Economics and Finance of the Built Environment, the Bartlett, UCL

Dr Julia Shvets, Senior Lecturer in Economics, Christ's College, University of Cambridge 

Dr Diana Barrowclough, Senior Economist, UNCTAD


15:15 - 15:30

Rethinking Value

15:30 - 16:30

This session will complement the first session with an exploration of how behavioural insights can be used to illuminate the constraints on prosperity and development in a world of complexity and geo-political conflict. Some of the key themes discussed will include limits to traditional macroeconomic measures of value and potential alternatives; how social, institutional and structural constraints limit economic development and contribute to inequality; and the impact of discrimination in limiting vulnerable groups' search for prosperity in a world of mass movement. 

Professor Gary Dymski, Professor of Applied Economics, Leeds University Business School

Dr Ivano Cardinale, Lecturer in Economics, Goldsmiths

Dr Ala'a Shehabi, Deputy Director of the Institute for Global Prosperity, Data Manager at the RELIEF Centre


16:30 - 17:45

Evening panel discussion

17:45 - 19:00

Professor Michelle Baddeley, Research Professor at the Institute for Choice, University of South Australia, Honorary Professor, Institute for Global Prosperity, UCL

Dr David Halpern, Chief Executive of the Behavioural Insights Team and Board Director

Dr Angus Armstrong, Director of Rebuilding Macroeconomics Network, National Institute of Economic and Social Research 

Dr Greg Davies, Head of Behavioural Finance, Oxford Risk 

Read the Yale University Press description of Copycats and Contrarians here:

"Rioting teenagers, tumbling stock markets, and the spread of religious terrorism appear to have little in common, but all are driven by the same basic instincts: the tendency to herd, follow, and imitate others. In today’s interconnected world, group choices all too often seem maladaptive. With unprecedented speed, information flashes across the globe and drives rapid shifts in group opinion. Adverse results can include speculative economic bubbles, irrational denigration of scientists and other experts, seismic political reversals, and more. Drawing on insights from across the social, behavioral, and natural sciences, Michelle Baddeley explores contexts in which behavior is driven by the herd. She analyzes the rational vs. nonrational and cognitive vs. emotional forces involved, and she investigates why herding only sometimes works out well. With new perspectives on followers, leaders, and the pros and cons of herd behavior, Baddeley shines vivid light on human behavior in the context of our ever-more-connected world."