Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Blog Topics: Economics, Psychology, & Policy

It has been a while since I have written longer posts on this blog. As said in the previous post, we will shortly launch a formal website for the new group and this blog will now revert to a more personal platform to discuss economics and psychology research. My main motivation in returning to this activity is to help in the process of developing material for a book I am writing on the history of economics psychology, and the development of a number of teaching programmes in UCD. There is also a discipline in writing blogposts that still makes it useful on top of using twitter as a form of social media interaction.

The main idea behind my book is to present the history of economics and psychology as a series of interactions and intellectual ideas over centuries and to draw inspiration from this for understanding the current field and future developments. I will post some ideas from this over the next while on this blog.

I have been involved, with colleagues, in developing two one-year graduate programmes, the MSc in Behavioural Science in Stirling, and the MSc in Behavioural Economics in UCD. The MSc in Stirling is currently in its fifth year and the MSc in Dublin is going into its second year. Developing these programmes has been an intense and rewarding experience and has pushed me to continue to learn as much as I can about wider literatures and push our programmes as far as possible towards the frontier of current knowledge and practice.

At present, there are a number of areas I am particularly interested in, and this will be reflected in the blog topics. The ethical aspect of applications of behavioural science in the public and private sector has been a key strand in both the UCD and Stirling MSc programmes. This blogpost contains a long albeit partial list of the various works that have been written on this. I am increasingly interested in how this can be brought into practice across the world, in particular the potential for usual guidelines for practitioners drawing from the academic literature. Related to this, there are now many firms and other organisations hiring behavioural scientists and behavioural economics, and many dedicated training programmes in this area. It is a good time to ask how to develop the professional aspects of this field. What counts as sufficient training for a behavioural scientist? What professional structures would benefit the discipline? I am hoping to build a lot more links between the various programmes in this area throughout Europe and am open to contact on this at any point. The development of career tracks in this area is also something I have been keeping an eye on.

Many of our students enter into policy and regulation in particular, and we hope that they are discerning consumers of scientific information. The replication crisis has entered many of our lectures and we train students to think critically about the academic literature, and I hope to keep up to date with the responses to this through posting here. In general, the extent to which we can go from findings in the academic literature to deriving parameters that are useful in policy is something that has occupied a lot of attention in my reading and our teaching. New papers emerging on scaleability, policy-relevant treatment effects, and related concepts should be a key focus of thought for people attempting to building bridges between policy and academia.

The blog will also be used to put out simple conceptual pieces to complement our Irish Behavioural Science and Policy Network sessions. Through this network, we host a range of discussion events and keynote talks, and there are currently approaching 500 people on the mailing list (which you can sign up to here). I have often used the blog to write short posts on topics that people keep asking me about on email or in talks and I will continue that here now also. We will be announcing soon upcoming keynote talks as well as regular sessions on ethics, business decision-making, and communications. 

The integration of new methodologies into our work has always been a focus of attention for this blog. I hope to keep discussions going on what methods behavioural public policy researcher should be trained in. Our group is particularly focused on naturalistic methods such as day reconstruction, but we will discuss a wide range of methodologies, including qualitative methods here (post here). We are completing work on building a new experimental lab here in UCD, and we are having a lot of discussions about studies combining lab experiments and naturalistic survey methods.

I will use the hashtags #ucdbsp (UCD Behavioural Science and Policy) and #ibspn (Irish Behavioural Science and Policy Network) on twitter to disseminate the posts.

Please do get in touch there or email me if you have thoughts about any of the posts or suggestions for topics.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Blog Changes

We will shortly launch a new website for the research group in Dublin. This will contain information on all of our events, publications, training, research opportunities, and so forth. This blog will now be used in a more personal capacity to distribute short pieces on issues around behavioural research mostly posted by myself, and from other researchers from time to time. The twitter account @econpsypol is also a good resource for keeping up with events in behavioural economics here in Dublin and also in Stirling.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

11th Annual Economics and Psychology Conference

11th Annual Economics and Psychology Conference

The 11th annual one day conference on Economics and Psychology will be held on November 30th in Dublin, jointly organised by researchers in ESRI and UCD. The purpose of these sessions is to develop the link between Economics, Psychology, and cognate disciplines throughout Ireland. A special theme of these events is the implications of behavioural economics for public policy. If you would like to present at this event please send a 200 word abstract to before Friday 7th September.
As well as the annual workshop we have developed a broader network to meet more regularly to discuss work at the intersection of economics, psychology, and policy. This has had five meet-ups so far, as well as some offshoot sessions. Anyone interested in this area is welcome to attend. A website with more details and a mailing list to sign up to is available here. There are currently over 450 people signed up to the network and the events have been very lively and interesting. There are several more planned for throughout 2018/2019 and we welcome suggestions.

2018 PhD Conference in Behavioural Science

2018  PhD Conference in Behavioural Science 

 Thursday, the 29th of November 2018
UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy

The UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy is pleased to announce our PhD Student Conference in Behavioural Science for 2018 in collaboration with the Stirling University Management School. This continues successful annual events held at Dublin and Stirling. For information about last two year's PhD conference click here and here. The PhD conference will be held at University College Dublin on November 29th and will be followed by the 11th annual Irish economics and psychology conference on November 30th. Attendees to the PhD conference on November 29th are also welcome to attend the November 30th workshop. 

The 2018 PhD Conference aims to give PhD students in Behavioural Science the opportunity to meet other researchers, to present their work, and get feedback from peers and researchers in the field. The PhD conference will deal with all areas of behavioural science (or behavioural economics, economic psychology, judgement and decision making, depending on your terminological preference). Topics include, but are not limited to
  • Nudging and Behavioural Policies 
  • Evaluation of Behavioural Policies
  • Mechanisms of Behavioural Interventions
  • Inter-temporal Choice
  • Self-control
  • Risk Preferences
  • Social Preferences
  • Heuristics
  • Personality and Economic
  • Subjective Well-Being
  • Identity in Economics
  • Emotions and Decision Making 
  • Behavioural Medicine
  • Early Influences on Later Life Outcomes
  • Behavioural Science and the Labour Market
  • Research Methods in Behavioural Science 
Speakers will present their research followed by a discussion. There will be no conference fee and a social dinner will be provided for attendees on the evening of November 30th. Please go to this link to submit an abstract for the conference. 
  • September 30: Abstract submission deadline (up to 500 words).
  • October 10: Notification of acceptance.
We look forward to welcoming you to Dublin. If you have questions, feel free to send an email to 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Irish Behavioural Science and Policy Network: Behavioural Science and Business Event

This meeting of the Irish Behavioural Science and Policy Network will explore the application of behavioural economics and behavioural science more generally in industry and market applications. The event will take place on March 29th at 6pm to 8pm in Dublin City Centre and will include four panel members who will share their experiences to date in applying ideas from this area in market applications. Our panel members include Amy Hume from Carr Communications, Robert Mooney from Amarach Research, Richard Roche from NUI Maynooth, and Alyona Rogozhkina who is currently developing a company based on behavioural science applications in workplace settings. This will be followed by a panel discussion and audience interaction. This is an emerging area globally and we hope the discussion will further advance applications of this area in Ireland. There is no fee to attend but we ask that people register as our events tend to reach capacity.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

PhD Studentships UCD School of Economics

UCD School of Economics is pleased to announce a call for applications for the 2018-19 PhD Scholarship scheme. The aim of the scheme is to attract applicants of the highest academic standards to participate in the UCD School of Economics PhD programme (details here) and provide them with the training, experience and mentorship necessary to their professional development.

These PhD Scholarships will comprise an annual tax-free stipend of €15,000 plus a full waiver of fees.  The scheme is open to both new applicants and existing PhD students, with the understanding that the stipend and fee waiver will continue to be provided to students up to and including their fourth year of PhD studies, subject to their continuing to make satisfactory progress in their studies and meeting the terms and requirements of their scholarship.

Students in receipt of a Scholarship are required to work as tutors in either undergraduate or graduate modules taught by the School of Economics.  This will allow PhD students to develop the practical application of their academic skills by ongoing training and experience of tutorial teaching, assessment and pedagogical development.   This taught component will amount to no more than 50 hours of teaching during each of our 12-week teaching semesters.

Selection Criteria

A selection board of School of Economics faculty members will review applications and make its recommendations on selection to the Head of School.  Applications will be evaluated and ranked by the Selection Board according to the following criteria:

Academic excellence (transcripts, previous research experience, etc.)
The academic testament of referees;
Quality and clarity of the research proposal;
Fit with the research strengths of the School;
Teaching potential (past teaching experience, English proficiency, etc.);
Availability of other funding to applicant (such as Irish Research Council awards).
Application Process

Before applying for the scholarship, applicants must have a firm or conditional offer of a place on our PhD programme.  Applicants who not yet received a Masters by September 2018 may be awarded a scholarship on a temporary basis if the student enrols in the school’s MLitt programme. However, the student must receive a Masters and transfer to the PhD programme by the start of semester 2 (January 2019) or the scholarship will terminate.

Details on the timing of scholarship application and awards for 2018/19 will be made available soon.

For students who are unsuccessful in applying for a PhD scholarship, the school also offers other forms of financial assistance, including fee waivers, hourly tutoring contracts, and marking exams.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Lectureship in Environmental Policy and Behavioural Science

Full details, including a link to apply are available here.

Applications are invited for a permanent Lecturer/Assistant Professor post in Environmental Policy. Applicants must have a PhD in environmental economics and policy or a related area, a strong, demonstrable commitment to research and international publication in environmental policy design and behavioural science, an ability to teach at University level, a capacity for graduate student supervision, a strong quantitative research and teaching ability, a commitment to translating the fruits of research into policy innovation, excellent interpersonal skills, and a capacity and enthusiasm for working in an interdisciplinary context within the School, the UCD Earth Institute, UCD Geary Institute and the wider academic community. Methodological research interests and an ability to teach environmental economics, behavioural economics, policy analysis and environmental policy design are mandatory requirements. The successful candidate will join a strong team and contribute to teaching on BSc and MSc programmes in environmental policy as well as contributing to modules of relevance to the School, College of Engineering and Architecture and the wider university.

UCD is listed in the top 1% of universities worldwide. It is a dynamic research-intensive university at the forefront of research and teaching activities across a wide range of disciplines. The School is currently ranked within the top 100 in the QS World University Rankings. Lead by the UCD Earth Institute and the UCD Energy Institute, ‘Environment and Energy’ is a stated strategic area for the University. The Behavioural Science Group in the UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy brings together applications of research across universities, businesses, regulators, research groups, and government departments where a strong research theme in environmental policy design is being strengthened through the application of behavioural science principles. The School, of which the successful candidate will be a Member, are leaders in Europe in coordinating and participating in large-scale prestigious research consortia. In addition, the Environmental Policy Group are internationally recognised for expertise and experience in the direct application of environmental economics research into the policy development process, for example, the lead role played in providing research and policy support to the EU policy system for the design and implementation of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, the world’s largest environmental policy instrument. The Group has provided direct policy advice to, inter alia, the Japanese Government, Irish Government, European Commission, European Environment Agency, OECD and World Bank and our graduates work worldwide. Key thematic areas of research include: Climate change and environmental policy instruments; Behavioural science, quality of life, subjective well-being and the environment; Risk analysis, Benefit-Cost Analysis and Environmental Valuation; Environmental policy analysis and environmental governance.