Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Fully funded PhD researcher in Applied Behavioral Sciences (Paris, France)

Via Olivier Oullier

Fully funded PhD researcher in Applied Behavioral Sciences (Paris, France)
BVA Group Paris & Aix-Marseille University (AMU)

The PhD researcher will work with BVA’s Innovation Team, she/he will participate in designing and implementing new market research using cutting insights from behavioral economics/nudge, social affective neuroscience and psychology.

The research will first require an extensive literature review on how behaviorally and neuroscientifically evidence-informed laboratory and field research can improve strategies in both the public and the private sectors. Topics covered will range from finance to public health including food, voting behavior, education, law, sustainable consumption etc.

Then, the researcher will implement behavioral insights in ongoing market research in the private and the public sectors. BVA Group is currently leading the effort in implementing nudges in national policy making, the applied part of the PhD work will therefore constitute a significant part of the job.
The candidate will participate in designing lab and field studies (RCTs), controlling the way data is collected (qualitative and quantitative), analyzed (coding scheme and statistical plan) and presented (datavizualisation and report). In order to gain experience, she/he will work with BVA’s Business Units to take into account the reality of the market and production constraints. At the academic level, the work will be supervised and supported by the Behavior, Cognition and Brain Institute and the Cognitive Psychology Lab of Aix-Marseille University/CNRS, France’s leading institution in bridging theoretical and applied work in behavioral and brain sciences to real life issues.
In addition to the research work, the selected candidate is expected to participate in the training of market researchers on behavioral insights and help them with their work in this domain.

The candidate must display a strong interest and knowledge in behavioral sciences applied to market research and policy-making. Prior experience in behavioral economics, nudging, social psychology, or social neuroscience/neuroeconomics will be prioritized. An academic and/or professional background in one of the following fields: cognitive, social or differential psychology, behavioral economics, neuroscience will be appreciated together with high-level skills in statistics and data visualization.
A Masters Degree is required to become a PhD candidate at Aix-Marseille University.
Fluent English is compulsory. French speaking will be appreciated but is not mandatory.

The PhD candidate will preferably have a 3-year French private/public contract (called CIFRE in France) between BVA Group and Aix-Marseille University. Other contracts to be discussed, depending on the candidate’s current status. Salary will depend on experience.

The work at BVA will be supervised by Etienne Bressoud, Innovation and Marketing Sciences Manager together with the PhD supervisor, Olivier Oullier, Professor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at Aix-Marseille University. The main location of the work will be Boulogne-Billancourt (near Paris, for the office work) where BVA labs are located. The PhD researcher will have to undergo mandatory graduate classes (approximately 2 weeks each year) in Marseille. The candidate should be ready to travel in France and abroad to conduct research an present her/his work.

The recruitment is open as of today until the position is filled. Ideally the chosen candidate should not start later than the end of November, 2014 (deadline for PhD applications in France)

The candidate is expected to send a motivation letter, detailed CV, and letters of recommendation.

Applications and further questions should be sent via email to both

Links 1.10.14

1. Teaching Contentious Classics in psychology by Carol Tavris in APS & Milgram & Kitty Genovese by Crooked Timber

2. "Primer on Behavioural Economics" by Colin Camerer in Cell Biology

3. "Looking at Productivity as a State of Mind" by Sendhil Mullaintain in the NYT

4. Econtalk interview with Thomas Piketty

5. Visualization of distribution of income growth during the economic expansions after the last 10 recessions in the United States

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Irish Economics and Psychology Conference

The seventh annual one day conference on Economics and Psychology, co-organised by researchers from UCD, ESRI and NUIM, will be held on October 31st in the UCD Geary Institute. The purpose of these sessions is to develop the link between Economics, Psychology and cognate disciplines in Ireland. A special theme of these events is the implications of behavioural economics for public policy though the workshops have covered work across all areas of intersection of Economics and Psychology. Programmes from the previous six events are here. We welcome students, academics, policy-makers, industry representatives and others with an interest in this area. Registration is free of charge but you should sign up on the link below if you are attending. Other questions about the event can be addressed to

Sign up to attend here


09.00 - 09.20: Registration:

09:20-09:30: Welcome and workshop introduction

09.30 - 10.00: Dr. Michael Daly (Stirling)
Time preferences predict inflammation in later life
Prominent economic and psychological models suggest that impatient individuals with high discount rates invest less in their health leading to adverse physiological consequences (Grossman, 1972; Hall & Fong, 2007). The aim of this study is to test, for the first time, whether time discount rates elicited from an incentivised experiment become biologically embedded via changes in C-reactive protein (CRP) and fibrinogen levels over time. The sample was drawn from the population-based English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Those who completed a preference module and provided blood plasma samples at two time-points for analysis were included in the study (n=427; Age=63.6 (SD=5.7); 52.8% Female). Discount rates were calculated from a set of 12 choices between smaller sooner and larger later rewards (e.g. £25 in two weeks or £30 in one month) where the participant won the value of a randomly selected choice (median reward £28). Our results indicate a substantial relationship between high discount rates and high levels of inflammation two years later as gauged by CRP (β=.18; p<.001) and fibrinogen (β=.1; p<.05) in analyses which adjusted for age, gender, marital status, wealth and prior inflammation levels. This pattern was robust to the inclusion of controls for BMI, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, other long-term illnesses, smoking, physical activity, and alcohol consumption. Further adjustment for cognitive functioning and the Big Five personality traits did not affect the associations observed. This study provides strong evidence that incentivised elicited discount rates robustly predict longitudinal changes in inflammation in a national sample.

10.00 - 10.30: Marek Bohacek (ESRI)

10.30 - 11.00: Coffee

11.00 - 11.45:  Prof. Rowena Pecchenino (NUIM)

The Economic Consequences of Despair
This paper examines despair, the total loss of hope, from the perspectives of many disciplines to characterize the despairing individual, his motivations, and his capacity for decision-making.  It then examines the extent to which economics has recognized despair and whether economics should incorporate despair into its theoretical and policy analyses, and, if so, how.

11.45 - 12.30: Dr. Pete Lunn (ESRI)

Do Consumers Value Products they are Familiar with more Accurately? (with Marek Bohacek & Féidhlim McGowan).
We investigate how the precision of consumer valuations is affected by familiarity with the product. Using a within-subject design, we compare performance in a 2AFC "objective valuation" task across four products: houses, contracts for broadband services, and two unfamiliar computer-generated products. Participants decide whether each product, with a given set of attributes at a particular price, represents good or bad value. The value of the familiar products is objectively defined by two statistical models relating attributes to prices in the market. The same models also determine the mathematical relationship between attributes and prices of the two unfamiliar products, allowing us to identify the effect due to familiarity. Data collection is to be completed by end-September. We will present an initial analysis of the experimental data at the conference.

12.30 - 1.30pm: Lunch

1.30 - 2pm: Prof. Liam Delaney (Stirling)

Behavioural Economics and Irish Public Policy 
This presentation will outline the relevance of the last ten years of behavioural economics and behavioural science for research across a number of domains including pensions policy, financial regulation, education, health and consumer policy.

2 - 2.45pm: Dr. Edel Walsh, (School of Economics, University College Cork)

An Examination of Life Satisfaction in Ireland: Evidence from the European Social Survey 5 (2010)
The aim of this research is to establish the most significant factors affecting life satisfaction, at an individual level, in Ireland during the recent economic recession. The global financial crisis significantly impacted the Irish economy and by 2010 Ireland was experiencing its third consecutive year of negative growth. During the period 2007 to 2010 the level and rate of unemployment increased substantially in Ireland with an average unemployment rate of 13.8 per cent being reported in 2010. In addition, unemployment affected men more than women and in particular the 20-24 year age group. Given the well-established link between life satisfaction, income and unemployment, the economic conditions in Ireland in 2010 make it an interesting case to study. The data used in this analysis were obtained from the Irish component of the European Social Survey 5 (2010). Using both OLS and ordered probit models the determinants of life satisfaction are estimated. The paper also tests if there are significant gender differences in the results but find no significant differences in the determinants of male and female life satisfaction in Ireland at that time. The main findings suggest that unemployment has a statistically significant effect on reducing life satisfaction. Income is found to have a significant, but modest effect on improving life satisfaction. The results also suggest that being young (24 or younger) or old (over 65) and having social connections have the largest positive effects on life satisfaction. Other findings suggest that having children positively impacts on one’s life satisfaction. Living in a rural area of Ireland is a positive factor affecting an individual’s satisfaction with their life. Further significant results indicate that life satisfaction is largely, negatively influenced by marital status (being divorced or separated) and suffering from a disability. The overall findings are important in the context of the current policy focus on well-being in Ireland.

2.45 -3.30pm: Dr. Ronan Lyons (Trinity College Dublin & Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE)

What house price equation do households use? Insights from the Irish housing market, 2003-2014
Housing is the most important good in the typical household’s consumption basket and the largest asset in its portfolio. Given this, and given that expectations about house prices act as a demand shifter, the measurement of house price expectations is a topic of importance for economic policy. This research attempts to answer two related questions. Firstly, to what extent are expectations backward-looking, rather than based on perceptions of future fundamentals? And secondly, how do households believe that changes in fundamentals will affect house prices? These questions are answered combining national surveys (2003-2008), national and local surveys (2011-2014) and an experimental survey, drawing on methods from the willingness-to-pay literature.

3.30 - 4pm: Coffee 

4pm - 5pm:  Prof. Ruth Byrne (TCD)
Professor of Cognitive Science
School of Psychology and Institute of Neuroscience
Trinity College Dublin, University of Dublin, Ireland

The Cognitive Science of the Human Imagination
The human imagination remains one of the last uncharted terrains of the mind. In everyday imaginative thought, people often create alternatives to reality and imagine how events might have turned out ‘if only’ something had been different. People engage in such flights of the imagination for more than entertainment – psychological experiments show that the alternatives to reality that people create ensure that they learn the causes of outcomes and how to prevent them in the future; they contribute to the experience of emotions such as regret, guilt, relief and hope; and they underlie social ascriptions of blame, responsibility, and fault. The loss of these imaginative thoughts following certain sorts of brain injury has devastating consequences for normal cognition. New discoveries suggest that, just as experiments have shown that rational thought is more imaginative than previously supposed, so too imaginative thought is more rational than previously supposed.  Cognitive scientists have established that people tend to change the same sorts of things in their ‘if only’ thoughts, such as events within their control, actions rather than inactions, exceptions rather than usual events. These ‘fault-lines’ in the human imagination provide important clues about its logic and its limitations, and indicate that imaginative thoughts are guided by the same principles that underlie rational thoughts. 

London Economics Course on Behavioural Economics and Consumer Finance

London Economics are running a series of course on behavioural economics and consumer finance. The details are available here  Many of the topics below are covered in our second term Behavioural Economics and Public Policy module are part of the MSc programme here. The role of behavioural economics in regulation is a particularly interesting topic and goes beyond ideas of how to influence behaviour into a broader set of questions on the implications of this for policy, regulation and understanding markets more generally.



Introduction to the day and the format
Setting objectives

The underlying principles

Understanding the definitions of behavioural economics and its uses
Comparisons with traditional economics: how it differs in substance and use
An introduction to the key unconscious biases that affect decisions and behaviour
The role of social influence in purchasing decisions
The difference between regret-aversion and loss-aversion
How framing of information affects consumer choices
An overview of the relevant academic literature
How behavioural experiments can be used to investigate consumer behaviour


The FCA’s understanding and application of behavioural economics

Why regulators are interested in behavioural economics and what they’re saying about it
Outlining the key points from the FCA’s paper on the subject
What evidence could organisations provide to demonstrate they are meeting the regulators expectations?
Examining some product or service features that could cause more concern for the FCA
Relevance of behavioural economics for the FCA’s new objective to promote effective competition
How are other relevant organisations – such as the CMA – applying behavioural economics?

Interactive breakout session

Delegates will now take part in a behavioural experiment that will illustrate one of the points discussed in the FCA’s paper. The outcome of this experiment and its relevance will then be discussed by the group


Applying behavioural economics in retail financial services

Why and how key characteristics of retail financial services require behavioural economics:
Complex products, including complexity in pricing frames
Risk and uncertainty
Infrequent purchases with little opportunity for learning from past experience
Products with multiple parts and add-ons
Bundled products
Emotional decisions
Trade-offs between present and future
Which preferences, beliefs and rules-of-thumb apply most to financial decisions?
Why status-quo bias is so pertinent to financial services
Why individuals find mental accounting difficult and what it means for financial products

Interactive breakout session

Delegates will now break into groups to work on a case study, identifying which of the biases covered are most likely to affect the product or service they have been asked to consider and how this can best be rectified. The outcomes of each discussion will then be shared with the group.


Behavioural economic experiments: design and application

Explaining what makes a good behavioural experiment and why they are useful
Case studies of behavioural experiments in practice:
FCA (2013) “Encouraging consumers to claim redress: evidence from a field trial”
London Economics (2014) “Study into the sales of Add-on General Insurance Products: Experimental consumer research”, a report for the FCA
London Economics (2011) “Evidence from consumer experiments”, a study informing the OFT’s market study on consumer contracts
London Economics (2010) “The impact of price frames on consumer decision making”, a study for the OFT
How were these designed and what factors needed to be taken into account?
What were the key findings and how have they been used?
Designing a behavioural experiment to meet your requirements: what needs to be considered?

Next steps and application in your organisation

Identifying where behavioural economics could be most beneficial for your organisation
Quick wins: which bits of information from today could help colleagues adapt their approach tomorrow
Applying lessons from existing research to your current practices or future plans
What you need to know before commissioning your own behavioural economic experiments
An overview of the key lessons from the day

Final Q&A
End of course

Friday, September 26, 2014

Making better decisions for public health: Insights from secondary data

Interesting event via ESRC Website:

Making better decisions for public health: Insights from secondary data

Location: The King's Fund 
Date: 2 October 2014, 10.30-16.00
This event will present research findings from six of a group of 15 projects supported by the ESRC's Secondary Data Analysis Initiative (SDAI). The UK has a world leading data infrastructure on social and economic research that provides a huge opportunity to address some of the most pressing challenges facing society today and into the future. The SDAI aims to deliver high quality high impact research through exploitation of major data resources created by ESRC and other agencies.
The conference will be chaired by David Buck, King’s Fund Senior Fellow (public health and health inequalities).
The morning session will look at 'Better data for public health policy and practice' and will feature presentations from projects which have looked at ways of generating better data on health variables, on co-morbidity and on contagion, for use by those responsible for delivery of public health and health promotion services. In the afternoon researchers will present insights into health and wellbeing from projects examining intergenerational relationships, links between educational attainment and wellbeing, and inequalities in oral health. The event will end with an audience discussion with the presenters about the issues raised throughout the day.


Better data for public health policy and practice (10.30-12.00)
  • Estimating census health geographies – Dr Joanna Taylor (Southampton) and Dr Liz Twigg (Portsmouth)
  • Comorbidity and public health: A spatial microsimulation model  –  Dr Karyn Morrissey (Liverpool)
  • Social assortativity and contagious processes – Dr Jonathan Read (Liverpool)
Followed by Q&A and discussion
Research insights into public health and wellbeing (13.00-14.30)
  • The education effect: Links between educational attainment and personal and societal wellbeing – Prof Tony Manstead (Cardiff)
  • Intergenerational relationships in the UK – Dr Tak Wing Chan (Oxford)
  • Investigating socioeconomic inequalities in oral health – Dr Georgios Tsakos, UCL
Followed by Q&A and discussion
Panel roundtable, audience/presenter discussion (15.00-16.00)

Further information

The event is free, but participants do need to register online.