On Feb. 18, the Broad College of Business opened its Broad Behavioral Lab in the Eppley Center. A first for the college, the space is dedicated solely to research and is reserved for Broad faculty and doctoral students exploring decision making, consumer behavior, teams research and other areas at the intersection of human interaction and business.

Nick Hays, associate professor of management, stands inside the Broad Behavioral Lab

Nick Hays, associate professor of management

“Behavioral research represents an important part of business schools because it reflects the reality that people (e.g., employees, managers, consumers) are not perfectly rational actors,” Nick Hays, associate professor of management and lead faculty member for the lab, said.

“Until now, we’ve had to cobble together space to run studies by reserving general purpose computer labs, breakout rooms, etc., or else we had to run studies exclusively in online samples. That’s enormously inefficient,” he continued. “The lab will be for research only, which means we won’t be competing with classes and student organizations to reserve the space.”

The lab was designed with flexibility in mind, allowing Broad Spartans to configure the space in a way that meets the needs of their data collection efforts.

For example, the lab is equipped with individual computer stations for studies of individual attitudes or decision making. A marketing faculty member might bring in participants and present advertisements with different wording, then offer participants a choice between product A and product B. The researcher would be interested in how advertisement wording affects product choice.

The space also allows for small groups working independently or together on tasks, as well as rooms for individual participants’ privacy or for an interview study. The reception area provides a place for researchers to check participants in and for participants to wait until their study begins.

Work stations inside the Broad Behavioral Lab

Designed with flexibility in mind, the lab allows Broad Spartans to configure the space to meet the needs of their data collection efforts.

Currently, faculty from nearly all of Broad’s departments intend to use the space to further their research activities — and they hope the lab will be a tool for ongoing faculty recruitment.

“Importantly, behavioral research is represented in all the major disciplines of business schools,” Hays explained. “Managerial decision making is central to organizational behavior and strategy research (in management), consumer behavior is part of marketing and supply chain and behavioral economics is part of accounting and finance.”

Hays hopes that over the next few years, the lab can purchase additional equipment for specialized studies, such as VR goggles, eye-tracking hardware and software and physiological equipment that can track blood pressure and skin conductance.

“I hope the lab will help bridge researchers who use similar methods from across the disciplines at Broad, allowing for a vibrant scholarly community of behavioral researchers,” he said.

Primary funding for the lab’s construction and technology was made possible from the university, with supplementary funds contributed from the Department of Management and Department of Marketing.

For more information on the Broad Behavioral Lab, or if you are Broad faculty or a doctoral student and wish to reserve the space, contact Nick Hays.