When economics fails: the growth of behavioural economics and its implication for coaches

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Ian Jeffreys

My article in the last issue on the application of economic thought to strength and conditioning outlined how economic theories can provide a potentially useful addition to the cognitive toolkits of strength and conditioning (S&C) coaches. However, as the financial crash of 2008 clearly showed, modern economics has been fraught with issues of prediction, and the difficulties of coping in uniquely challenging times. Classic theory is not always able to predict outcomes, and in many instances actual outcomes simply do not comply with classic economic thought. Therefore, new methods of thought needed to be investigated if these deviations from the expected norm were to be fully understood and not simply seen as anomalies. So – rather ironically – after initially outlining how economic thought processes add valuable tools to our cognitive toolkit, this article will now focus on some of the failures of classic economics to predict outcomes; it will place specific emphasis on those failures which involve human behaviour, and how these have led to the growth in a whole new field of study: that of behavioural economics. This behavioural focus can provide even more useful tools in understanding our own and our athletes’ behavioural patterns, as well as assisting in effective decision-making.

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