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Economic Downturn: Psychological Issues
10:30 am - 1:30 pm, Wiliford B

Michael Frésé
National University of Singapore, Singapore
University of Lueneburg, Germany
This seminar will focus on various ways I-O psychology can contribute to the understanding of, and coping with, the ongoing economic downturn. Specifically, it will start with discussing how economic behaviors can be analyzed from I-O psychology's perspective, then address issues including individuals' job search behaviors, coping behaviors (especially under unemployment), and engaging in entrepreneurial careers that are particularly relevant to the current economic situation.
The economic downturn is real. How can I-O psychology react? The current seminar attempts to discuss issues from various perspectives: a) How can psychology contribute to a better understanding of economic issues. Economists tend to use psychological terms to understand the development of bubbles and to understand the panic that appears when the bubble bursts (e.g., herding behavior). Then, what has psychology contributed in these areas and how can we better understand the psychology behind economic behaviors—here the level of analysis is on the societal level. On a somewhat different level, we can ask of how crisis and its concomitant higher degree of unemployment affects individuals. b) On an individual level we can ask: How can psychological science be used to deal with the individual effects of this crisis. Important issues here are how to deal with crisis individually. Here it helps to understand how one can deal with errors and mistakes and the paradigm of error management training can help us to understand how we deal with a crisis (cf. Keith and Frésé). A somewhat different issue is if the crisis has led to unemployment. What can we tell the unemployed individual of how she can help to overcome unemployment. Job search behavior is important here and there is a large and highly productive literature on job search behavior that suggests behaviors that need to be taken (primarily studies by Wanberg and colleagues). c) On a slightly different level, we can ask how individuals can contribute to more jobs. Entrepreneurship is particularly relevant here; in the meantime there is a high degree of knowledge, of how psychological prerequisites can contribute to entrepreneurship and how a higher degree of motivation for entrepreneurship can be trained and how people can be trained to be better and more effective entrepreneurs.
Learning objectives:

1. Analyze economic behavior from a psychological perspective.
2. List all the factors that contribute to better job search behavior
3. Propose a model of how individuals can deal with an economic crisis situation
4. Demonstrate how individuals can become more interested in an entrepreneurial career and how they can be taught how to become more effective entrepreneurs
Dr. Michael Frésé is a professor at National University of Singapore, NUS Business School and at Leuphana, Univ. of Lueneburg, Germany. He has worked on the intersection of economics and I-O psychology for many years.  He has developed a model of how psychological variables contribute to economic development. He has done studies on the effects of unemployment which suggest ways of how to deal with unemployment and he has developed a personal initiative-training for the unemployed. He further developed a model of how effective entrepreneurial behavior can be understood, and how that can be translated into training programs to increase entrepreneurship. He has published more than 200 publications and is one of the most highly cited European I-O psychologists.
Coordinator: Ashley Walvoord, Verizon Wireless