The behavioural science group in UCD is being led by Professor Liam Delaney. Behavioural economics and behavioural science more generally are now key areas of both academic thought and application to policy and regulation. To date, there has not been a coherent development of this area in Ireland though there are several currently developing applications across universities, businesses, regulators, research groups, and government departments. We aim to become a key European centre for knowledge in this area over the next three years.
The key elements of activity are listed below. Ultimately, we aim to develop a full national research centre in behavioural science and public policy with collaborations with all Irish universities, ESRI, and international partnerships. Given the importance of this area for policy, business, and regulation, and the lack of any existing cross-institution cluster of strength in this area in Ireland, the case for developing such a centre is strong. NB potential PhD students and researchers who would like to work with us should examine funding options here. Dedicated posts will also be advertised in due course.
The behavioural science research centre based in the UCD Geary Institute of Public Policy focuses on three key areas:
The Environment: The centre applies behavioural economics to environmental policy, trial design, diary studies, life-cycle models, and links to mental health. Collaborators include EnvEcon, EPA, ESRI, and SEAI.
Health and Well-Being: Research at the centre deals with life-cycle modelling, self-control, policy evaluation, behavioural economics applied to health, interaction of health psychology and behavioural economics, mental health, interaction of health and economic factors, socioeconomic disparities, and diary studies. Collaborators include the HSE, Beaumont, Department of Health, and more.
Financial Decision Making: The centre focuses on life-cycle models, diary studies as decision making analysis tool, elicitation of complex preferences, intervention design and evaluation, behavioural regulation, and ethical interventions. Collaborators include AIB, Central Bank, and Revenue Commissioners.
- The behavioural science research centre focuses on three main clusters of activity: measurement of economic behaviour; life-cycle models of economic behaviour; ethics of behavioural science policy. The development of these three key themes reflects the importance of a coherent measurement and ethical basis for policies based on behavioural economic ideas. Key workshops and kick-off meetings, along with funding opportunities, to develop these three themes in three areas will be announced here in due course.
- Widespread national research collaborations with other universities, public, and private bodies. Continuation of annual conference in this area to further promote whole-island network development. Programme for this year’s workshop available here (http://economicspsychologypolicy.blogspot.ie/2017/04/2017-ucd-phd-conference-in-behavioural.html).
- Development of a cohort of full-time and part-time PhD students and postdoctoral researchers in this area based at the Geary Institute. ERC, IRC, and other Irish and European peer-reviewed funding sources will be the key method of financing the development of this cohort.
- Development of a European network on behavioural science, policy and ethics based in Dublin. The likely funding source for this will be either a COST or Marie-Curie application during the 2018 funding rounds.
- Development of a full plan for an Irish Centre for Behavioural Science and Public Policy to be funded from external sources within the first three years. The potential, in particular, for a bid to the SFI strategic research clusters initiative is one feasible strategy for this but other alternatives are being actively considered.
Teaching and Training
- An MSc in Behavioural Economics based in the UCD School of Economics. Widespread collaboration and module sharing with Psychology, Law, and other disciplines.
- Development of an undergraduate summer research internship programme based at Geary.
- Development of a series of executive education classes in behavioural economics aimed at regulators, executives, and policy-makers.
- Masterclasses in microeconometrics, behavioural economics, and statistics for graduate students and professional researchers.
- Regular seminars, reading groups, and workshops.
Industry and Policy Linkages
- A new AIB-UCD lab for research into consumer decision making. This new lab, funded by AIB, will explore the development of new ideas in the financial decision-making domain and their potential to lead to more active financial markets in Ireland. We will conduct several research projects on consumer financial decision-making and host workshops in this area in Dublin.
- Collaboration with Irish policymakers to develop the integration of behaviourally-informed ideas into Irish public policy.
- Collaboration with ESRI to develop the area of behaviourally-informed regulation in Ireland.
- Collaboration with Amarach Research to develop a range of studies with practical relevance to Irish businesses and policy-makers.
- Collaboration with Carr Communications to develop a number of applications of behavioural economics in the context of communications interventions in key policy contexts.
Knowledge Exchange and Impact
- Further development of the activities of the Irish Behavioural Science and Policy Network (http://www.irishbspn.org/).
- Development of the economics, psychology, and policy blog to further act as a widely used resource. (http://economicspsychologypolicy.blogspot.co.uk/).
- Collaboration with policy-makers to promote best practice in design and evaluation of behaviourally-informed public policies.