Wednesday, November 08, 2017

PhD and Postdoctoral Research Areas: Funding and Indicative Projects

Our research group in UCD seeks to recruit PhD students and postdoctoral researchers in the area of behavioural economics. While we will consider applications across a wide range of areas, a particular focus of our work is on the development of naturalistic methods such as experience sampling and day reconstruction in behavioural economics to study real-world decision making. Those interested in conducting a PhD in this area should contact Liam Delaney at Liam.Delaney@ucd.ie. Postdoctoral funding opportunities are currently available through the Irish Research Council, and we also aim to advertise more posts during the upcoming year. Indicative projects are below but we would work with any potential applicant to craft their own application. 


Links to Applications 



IRC Postdoctoral Fellowships - http://research.ie/funding/goipd/


Naturalistic monitoring and behavioural economics

Behavioural economics has identified a multitude of decision making biases and these insights have had a substantial influence on economic theory as well as public policy making. At the same time, researchers in various fields have begun to measure behaviour and experiences in the real world using naturalistic monitoring tools such as experience sampling and the Day Reconstruction Method (DRM). Our research group aims to combine these areas and investigate behavioural economic concepts “in the wild”. This can be done in observational studies, field experiments, or natural experiments. For a description of the DRM click here and here and for a recent application of the method to study self-control click here. Indicative projects using naturalistic monitoring are below.

Indicative Projects 

Self-control and everyday job search

This project uses naturalistic monitoring to better understand the determinants of job search intensity. Since job search has immediate costs and delayed benefits, the project will focus on the economic and psychological literatures on inter-temporal choice and self-control. The project will explore whether low levels of job search are related to self-control problems and identify behavioural interventions that can help job seekers to overcome self-control problems. Additionally, the project will investigate the momentary experiences job seekers feel in their everyday lives and identify situational factors that influence these experiences.

Prospect theory in the wild


Prospect theory is one of the most popular models in behavioural economics. This project uses naturalistic monitoring tools in order to measure whether people use reference points in their everyday lives, and whether negative deviations from these reference points loom larger than positive ones. The project builds on Boyce et al.’s (2013) finding that losses in income have a larger effect on evaluative subjective well-being than equivalent income gains, and tests whether similar patterns can be observed for experienced subjective well-being in everyday life. The project also investigates the effects of loss aversion on decision making in everyday life and tests whether anticipated losses or anticipated regret predict everyday decisions more effectively.

Social preferences in the wild

Humans are social, as economists have learned from experimental settings such as Dictator, Ultimatum, and Public Good Games. This project tests the external validity of these experimental lab measures of social preferences by investigating whether the lab measures correlate with social behaviours in everyday life.

Identity economics in the wild

Many economically relevant decisions are influenced by self-image considerations and thoughts about who we are, which social categories we identify with, and which norms we should adhere to. Akerlof and Kranton (2010) introduce the concept of identity to economics, and this project aims to test how identity considerations shape the experiences and behaviours in peoples’ everyday lives.

Everyday Consumption

This project combines the DRM with a spending diary. The spending diary will provide information about what individuals spend money for and the DRM will help to understand why people spend the money. For example, the project can test whether online shopping is particularly prevalent when individuals are tired and exhausted as has been shown in laboratory experiments before. The project will map subjective preferences to consumption decisions and investigate differences in this mapping across the socio-economic spectrum.

Sustainable travel mode choices

The transport choices people make in their everyday lives are an important contributor to individual quality of life as well as an important influence on the global climate. Behavioural economics and happiness research suggest that many situational factors can affect peoples’ decisions to take the car, bus, train, bike, or other forms of transport. This project will develop and evaluate behaviourally-informed policy interventions that aim to facilitate sustainable travel mode choices.

The effects of smartphones on decision making in everyday life


Smartphones have become an essential part of our everyday lives, and recent research has explored the associations between smartphone use and momentary subjective well-being. This project aims to explain the high use of smartphones using behavioural economics concepts (e.g. visceral influences, self-control, social preferences) and identify the consequences of smartphone use for everyday decision making. The project will test whether the well-being effects of tech and social media use are moderated by the various decision-making styles.

The everyday effects of work email policies


Many companies strongly encourage employees not to send emails after work hours and remove moral obligations to respond to messages during free time. This project’s aim is to implement a randomised control trial on email-out-of-work policies. Building on the literature examining links between email, social media usage, well-being, and employee productivity, this project will explore the extent to which email-out-of-work policies influence time-use and subjective well-being. The project focuses on effect on stress, intensity within working time, and other compensating behaviours, and tests whether email-out-of-work policies are particularly beneficial for people with poor self-control.

The effect on alcohol display restrictions (“Booze curtains”)

In 2018, restrictions on alcohol displays will be implemented in Ireland. This policy aims to reduce the temptation and social pressure to consume alcohol by installing screens in front of the alcohol displays, informally known as “booze curtains”, in all retail outlets selling alcohol. This project evaluates this policy. The project uses naturalistic monitoring in order to evaluate this policy. In particular, we focus on the role of self-control and test whether the policy is particularly beneficial for people with poor self-control.

Medical adherence in everyday life

A major problem in most health systems is that people – despite their better intentions – do not take their medicine when they should. Not adhering to one’s prescriptions has increased the financial and health costs of medication. Using naturalistic measurement, we will identify the feelings, desires, and thoughts that predict medical (non-)adherence.

The validity of the DRM as a tool to measure everyday decision making

This project aims to test the validity of the DRM by comparing DRM data to equivalent experience sampling (mobile phone) data and identifying whether the reports from DRM match reports taken from real-time tracking. The project will also conduct detailed cognitive testing across all phases of the DRM to develop and improve the method. The project will generate a document that will facilitate the adaptation of the method by other researchers.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

IRC Postdoctoral Fellowships

Please see details on this this link of postdoctoral fellowships funded by the Irish government. The deadline is the end of November. We are happy to speak to people interested in pursuing postdoctoral work in the area of behavioural science and behavioural economics.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

ODI Fellowship Scheme

See below from the ODI. 

Dear Professor Delaney,

The ODI Fellowship Scheme has been sending young postgraduate economists (and, as of 2014, statisticians) to work in the public sectors of developing countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific on two-year contracts since 1963. Providing an excellent opportunity to develop skills and gain experience working within a developing country's government, the application process for the 2018-2020 Fellowship Scheme is now open. Students are advised to apply before 1 December 2017 for a chance to be part of the ODI Fellowship Scheme. The Scheme is open to candidates of all nationalities.

Essential criteria:
  • degree in economics, statistics or a related field
  • postgraduate degree qualification*
  • ability to commit to a two-year assignment
* For those studying for a postgraduate degree at the time of application, the award of a Fellowship will be conditional upon the successful completion of their degree.

Salary is c. £21,000 p.a. (£23,000 in the second year) plus an accommodation allowance. Start date is September/October 2018.

As well as the usual candidates, this year the Scheme is looking to attract PhD candidates able to work in the research departments of central banks, candidates with at least three years of uninterrupted work experience for a post in the Royal Monetary Authority in Bhutan, and candidates with deeper knowledge of mining finance for a post in Eritrea.

Application is via the online application form: https://jobs.odi.org.uk/VacancyInformation.aspx?VId=28151  

To read some first-hand experiences of recent Fellows, please see the following page: https://www.odi.org/fellowship-scheme/experiences

Our latest booklet is available to view or download: https://www.odi.org/sites/odi.org.uk/files/odi_fellowship_scheme_2018.pdf

We can also mail out hard copies of our booklet on request. 

Best,

Darren

Darren Lomas
Programme Officer

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

BEHAVE: Behaviour Change and Climate Change, Future Earth Ireland event, Royal Irish Academy, November 17th 10.45am

See below from Professor Anna Davies from Trinity College Dublin: 

Future Earth Ireland are pleased to invite you to our annual event at the Royal Irish Academy on Friday November 17th at 10.45am

This year we are focusing on the important issue of behaviour change and climate change with an exciting line-up of international speakers and national leaders in behaviour change.

The event is free of charge but places are limited. Register for the event here:https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/behaviour-change-for-climate-change-tickets-39324387301

Future Earth Ireland is the National Committee of the global programme Future Earth:

Future Earth is a major international research platform providing the knowledge and support to accelerate transformations to a sustainable world. Launched in 2015, Future Earth is a 10-year initiative to advance Global Sustainability Science, build capacity in this rapidly expanding area of research and provide an international research agenda to guide natural and social scientists working around the world. But it is also a platform for international engagement to ensure that knowledge is generated in partnership with society and users of science. We are closely engaged in international processes such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and climate and biodiversity agreements (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and theConvention on Biological Diversity).

Queries should be directed to info@ria.ie

Best wishes

Anna

Cass Sunstein in Dublin November 10th

On November 10th, we welcome back the distinguished Harvard Law Professor, Cass Sunstein to Dublin. Professor Sunstein will deliver three sessions over the course of the afternoon:

1. The first session will take place from 130pm to 245pm in the UCD Geary Institute and will follow up from his recent talk on new directions in behavioural public policy below. It is aimed at people working directly in this area in Ireland and will be interactive and address practical and conceptual issues in applying this work. We have invited people directly and we welcome expressions of interest for attending from people working on applications of this area in Ireland to be made to geary@ucd.ie

Venue: UCD Geary Institute Seminar Room

130pm: Introduction and Welcome

135pm: Pete Lunn (ESRI): ESRI Research on Behavioural Economics

145pm: Fiona Kiernan (Beaumont Hospital): Behavioural Economics and Sepsis: Towards Hospital Trials

155pm: Karl Purcell (SEAI): Behavioural Economics and Energy Efficiency: Update on SEAI Behavioural Economics Team

205pm: Keith Walsh (Revenue Commissioners): Behavioural Economics and Revenue Behavioural Trials

215pm: Yvonne McCarthy (Central Bank): Behavioural Economics and Financial Regulation

225pm to 255pm: Roundtable discussion with Cass Sunstein about advancing this area in Irish Public Policy



2. The second talk will place from 3pm to 4pm and will outline the ideas from his recently released book "Republic". The sign-up page for this event is available here. A summary of the book is below. The venue is the Clinton Auditorium in UCD.

As the Internet grows more sophisticated, it is creating new threats to democracy. Social media companies such as Facebook can sort us ever more efficiently into groups of the like-minded, creating echo chambers that amplify our views. It's no accident that on some occasions, people of different political views cannot even understand each other. It's also no surprise that terrorist groups have been able to exploit social media to deadly effect. Welcome to the age of #Republic. In this revealing book, Cass Sunstein, the New York Times bestselling author of Nudge and The World According to Star Wars, shows how today's Internet is driving political fragmentation, polarization, and even extremism—and what can be done about it. Thoroughly rethinking the critical relationship between democracy and the Internet, Sunstein describes how the online world creates "cybercascades," exploits "confirmation bias," and assists "polarization entrepreneurs." And he explains why online fragmentation endangers the shared conversations, experiences, and understandings that are the lifeblood of democracy. In response, Sunstein proposes practical and legal changes to make the Internet friendlier to democratic deliberation. These changes would get us out of our information cocoons by increasing the frequency of unchosen, unplanned encounters and exposing us to people, places, things, and ideas that we would never have picked for our Twitter feed.

3. The third talk will place from 4pm to 5pm and will involve the presentation of the Ulysses medal to both Professor Sunstein and former US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power. The sign-up page for this event is available here.

Event Description

Former US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, and renowned Behavioural Economist, Professor Cass R. Sunstein, will receive the UCD Ulysses Medal - the highest honour the University can bestow - on Friday, 10 November in UCD O'Brien Centre for Science. Following the Ulysses Medal Presentation Ceremony, Former Ambassador Power and Professor Sunstein will take part in a moderated Q+A on the topics of US foreign policy and on Professor Sunstein's recently released book on impeachment (details here).

The schedule for the event is as follows:
4pm       Citation and Award to Ambassador Power (10 mins)
4.10pm   Citation and Award to Professor Sunstein (10 mins)
4.20pm   moderated Q&A with Amb. Power & Prof. Sunstein on U.S. foreign policy and impeachment (40 mins)
5.00pm   Q&A with the audience (20 mins)
5.20pm   Refreshments

UCD Ulysses Medal

The UCD Ulysses Medal is the highest honour that University College Dublin can bestow. It was inaugurated in 2005, as part of the University’s sesquicentennial celebrations, to highlight the ‘creative brilliance’ of UCD alumnus James Joyce. It is awarded to individuals whose work has made an outstanding global contribution.

About Cass Sunstein

Cass R. Sunstein is currently the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard. From 2009 to 2012, he was Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. He is the founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at Harvard Law School. Mr. Sunstein has testified before congressional committees on many subjects, and he has been involved in constitution-making and law reform activities in a number of nations.
Mr. Sunstein is author of many articles and books, including Republic.com (2001), Risk and Reason (2002), Why Societies Need Dissent (2003), The Second Bill of Rights (2004), Laws of Fear: Beyond the Precautionary Principle (2005), Worst-Case Scenarios (2001), Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness (with Richard H. Thaler, 2008), Simpler: The Future of Government (2013) and Why Nudge? (2014) and Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas (2014). He is now working on group decisionmaking and various projects on the idea of liberty.

About Former Ambassador Samantha Power

Ambassador Samantha Power is the Anna Lindh Professor of the Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School. From 2013 to 2017 Power served as the 28th U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, as well as a member of President Obama’s cabinet. In this role, Power became the public face of U.S. opposition to Russian aggression in Ukraine and Syria, negotiated the toughest sanctions in a generation against North Korea, lobbied to secure the release of political prisoners, helped build new international law to cripple ISIL’s financial networks, and supported President Obama’s pathbreaking actions to end the Ebola crisis.From 2009 to 2013, Power served on the National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, where she focused on issues including atrocity prevention; UN reform; LGBT and women’s rights; the protection of religious minorities; and the prevention of human trafficking. Before joining the U.S. government, Power was the founding executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School. Power’s book, “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Power is also author of the New York Times bestseller Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World (2008) and the editor, with Derek Chollet, of The Unquiet American: Richard Holbrooke in the World (2011). She began her career as a journalist, reporting from places such as Bosnia, East Timor, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan, and Zimbabwe and has twice been named to Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” list. Power earned a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Behavioural Economics Roundtable November 10th

See below for our opening session on November 10th. This is by invitation only but if you are working on this area in Ireland and would like to come, send us an email at geary@ucd.ie The sign-up pages for Professor Sunstein's public talks are available here

Venue: UCD Geary Institute Seminar Room

130pm: Introduction and Welcome

135pm: Pete Lunn (ESRI): ESRI Research on Behavioural Economics

145pm: Fiona Kiernan (Beaumont Hospital): Behavioural Economics and Sepsis: Towards Hospital Trials

155pm: Karl Purcell (SEAI): Behavioural Economics and Energy Efficiency: Update on SEAI Behavioural Economics Team 

205pm: Keith Walsh (Revenue Commissioners): Behavioural Economics and Revenue Behavioural Trials

215pm: Yvonne McCarthy (Central Bank): Behavioural Economics and Financial Regulation

225pm to 255pm: Roundtable discussion with Cass Sunstein about advancing this area in Irish Public Policy

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Preliminary Programme: 10th Annual Irish Economics, Psychology, and Policy Conference


Preliminary Programme: 10th Annual Irish Economics, Psychology, and Policy Conference

UCD Geary Institute 

December 1st 2017 

We will host the 10th annual Irish economics and psychology conference in UCD Geary Institute on Friday December 1st. Our keynote speakers will be Professor Don Ross (UCC) and Professor Jennifer Sheehy Skeffington (LSE).  Those who wish to register to attend can do so at this link. For the first time, we will also host an early career conference the day before aimed at PhD students and early stage researchers in other agencies. Details of that event are available here Attendees registered for the December 1st event are also welcome to attend the PhD session.  

Preliminary Programme

9am - 915am: Coffee and Welcome 

Michael Daly (UCD & Stirling): "Self-Control and Decision Making"

Maureen Maloney (NUIG): "Evaluating the framing effects of written pension communications: case study evidence" (with A. McCarthy).

Till Weber (UCD): “A Cross-Societal Comparison of Cooperative Dispositions and Norm Enforcement.”

1030 to 11am Coffee

Pete Lunn (ESRI): "Many Years From Now: Measuring Misperception and Misunderstanding of Pensions".

Leonhard Lades (EnvEcon & UCD): "Self-Control in Everyday Life"

Keynote 1:  Don Ross (UCC): "Do People Bundle Sequences of Choices? An Experimental Investigation"

1pm - 145pm: Lunch

Dave Comerford (Stirling): "Animal Spirits and Political Animals: The Affect Heuristic Explains Partisan Differences in Investor Behavior".

Áine Ní Choisdealbha (ESRI): "Effects of efficiency information and emissions charges on consumer car preferences”.

345 to 4pm Coffee

Keynote 2: Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington (LSE): 'Decision-making up against the wall: How socioeconomic status shapes basic psychological processes'