The Brains and Guts of Decision Making

Stanford Graduate School of Business

How long?

  • 4 days
  • online

What are the topics?

Stanford Graduate School of Business


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Who should attend

Business professionals — from executives, business owners, consumer marketers, to HR and team managers — who want to better understand and influence the decision making behavior of their stakeholders

About the course

Discover the building blocks of decision making and learn how to hack these powerful forces to influence choices and shape behaviors.

Brains and Guts. These are the two fundamental forces that drive decision making — together they lead us to decide, to act, and to feel. Unlike popular press books that simply catalog them as magical “hidden forces,” The Brains and Guts of Decision Making presents a holistic and innovative framework to decode decision making, which yields the practical tools necessary to drive outcomes that meet your business goals. By leveraging a combination of thoughts, judgments, and memories, plus needs, emotions, and senses, you will be able to shape both the direction and the intensity of the behavior of your stakeholders.

In this cutting-edge Stanford Intensive Live Online Business Program, you’ll uncover the fundamental principles of decision making from behavioral economics, psychology, neuroscience, and consumer behavior. You’ll learn which levers can jointly influence stakeholder decisions and how to dynamically adjust these levers to achieve the goals you want for yourself and your business.

In eight sessions held over four days, you’ll engage deeply with world-renowned researchers in faculty-led sessions. Participate in live demos and interactive, multimedia case studies. It’s the kind of program that can impact almost every facet of your business and every stakeholder you interact with — from customers to colleagues, investors to employees.

Key Benefits

Discover decision making frameworks and tools to help you analyze and shape the behavior of your key stakeholders.

  • Learn how to direct people toward the choices you want them to make.
  • Learn how to intensify a decision and its outcome by leveraging emotions, senses, and motivation.
  • Learn how to use choice architecture and how to create decision situations for stakeholders.
  • Learn how to design incentives to increase engagement of stakeholders.
  • Learn how to jointly shape the direction and the intensity of stakeholder decisions.


How and why are decisions made? What makes someone lead with their brains or their gut? Is it possible to hack decision making forces to drive desired behaviors?

The Brains and Guts of Decision Making curriculum explores how cognitive and noncognitive forces work together to amplify their effects on decision making. Using strategic frameworks and tools, faculty-led sessions, and interactive case studies, you’ll discover what each building block specifically does and how one force can erase or facilitate another. It’s a deep dive into principles of human behavior, a holistic framework for decision making, and practical tools for asking the right questions and pulling the right levers to achieve optimal outcomes.

Course Highlights

Need Motivation?

This session explores the noncognitive building block of “needs” and explains how different types of needs can be leveraged to shape stakeholder behavior. You will discuss real-world examples with your peers and learn the newest findings in psychology and behavioral science regarding needs, goal setting, and motivation.

You will also learn specific tools to help you think broadly, deeply, and dynamically about your stakeholders’ needs. You will be challenged to then apply these learnings to a specific target audience to shape their behavior.

How Our Mind Makes Decisions

In this session, we will discuss the basic principles that govern how we assess value from options and how we use these assessments to make decisions. We will discuss insights from psychology, consumer behavior, and behavioral economics.


Jonathan Levav

Research Statement Jonathan Levav studies consumer behavior and behavioral decision theory. He combines laboratory and field experiments, as well as secondary data analysis, in order to study the factors that influence people's choices and judgments. His research on choice focuses on three inter-...

Szu Chi Huang

Research Statement Professor Huang’s research focuses on consumer motivation. Her work in this area has been programmatic, documenting how consumers have different concerns in different stages of goal pursuit, and thus derive motivation in very distinct ways. Professor Huang uses experiments to t...

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The Brains and Guts of Decision Making at Stanford Graduate School of Business

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Coursalytics is an independent platform to find, compare, and book executive courses. Coursalytics is not endorsed by, sponsored by, or otherwise affiliated with any business school or university.

Full disclaimer.

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