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.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Summer Course: Intensive Longitudinal Methods - Introduction and Data Analysis Camp

See below for details of what looks like a very useful summer course being run in Aberdeen.

Summer Course: Intensive Longitudinal Methods - Introduction and Data Analysis Camp

Instructors: Dr Gertraud Stadler, Dr Dan Powell, and Prof Niall Bolger

Date: 23rd - 27th July, 2018

Location: University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK

A 5-day course covering the design and analysis of intensive longitudinal studies.

Early bird  date for registration is Monday, 16th April 2018.

This five-day course provides an introduction to designing and analysing intensive longitudinal studies. Intensive longitudinal methods allow researchers to examine processes in daily life in a way that is not possible using traditional methods. Researchers can obtain repeated observations over the course of hours, days, and weeks, and often even longer. Intensive longitudinal data, however, present multiple design and data analytic challenges stemming from the various possible sources of interdependence in these data.  This course will help participants in choosing their design in line with their theoretical questions, and practice analysing intensive longitudinal data with example data sets and their own data.

For further information, including details on how to book a place, please visit our website or contact, our workshop administrator.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Irish Behavioural Science and Policy Network Event on Behavioural Economics and Healthcare in Ireland

Our next session takes place on March 8th in the Economics and Social Research Institute seminar room. It will address the application of behavioural economics and behavioural science more generally in healthcare in Ireland. The event will take place from 12pm to 2pm. It will consist of short opening contributions from four people actively involved in this area followed by a moderated panel discussion, and we will also include time for networking and discussion of potential collaborations. Currently confirmed panels are Dr. Fiona Kiernan from Beaumont Hospital who has been working on behavioural interventions in the area of sepsis, Kirsten Connelly Deputy Director of Communications at HSE, Robert Murphy Senior Researcher at the Department of Health who has been working on the interaction between the health system and patients in a range of contexts, and Dr. Pete Lunn who is the lead researcher in the ESRI Behavioural Economics program. To attend the event, please sign up here. The event is free but registration is required for planning purposes.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Summary of study on well-being and self-control in the Irish population

On January 25, 2018, we presented new data on well-being and self-control in the Irish population at the Institute of Banking. We conducted a study using the Day Reconstruction Method (DRM) with Amarach Research and asked almost 1000 Irish individuals to tell us about three episodes they experienced “Yesterday”. Below are some graphs from the presentation and some further reading and offers a snapshot of the many potential uses of such data across contexts.

If you like to know more about the study or are interested in running similar studies yourself, please contact Liam Delaney ( or Leonhard Lades ( 

Illustrative findings:

Figure 1: Four experiences during the day.

Figure 2: When did people engage in different activities?

Figure 3: How positive did people feel during different activities?

Figure 4: How many desires did people have and how many desires led to self-control failures. We define self-control failures as desires that are (i) conflicting, (ii) attempted to be resisted, and (iii) nonetheless enacted. Hence of the 1932 desires we recorded, 295 led to a self-control failure.

Figure 5: In which domains did desires (the length of each bar) and self-control failures (coded in red) occur?

Figure 6: When and in which domains did desires occur?

Figure 7: When and in which domains did self-control failures occur?

Figure 8: The links between desire enactment, use of self-control, and positive experiences. On the left we see that people have more positive feelings when they enact a given desire (versus when they do not enact it), given that people to not try to resist enacting the desire. That is in line with previous literature. However, on the right we see that the same "enactment-boost" is present, when people tray to resist enacting. The latter is contrary to recent findings and suggests that people "might just enjoy it" despite being a self-control failure.

Figure 9: Trait self-control across the population color coded in low, medium, and high.

Figure 10: Especially in the first half of the day, people with low trait self-control are more tired than people with high trait self-control.

Further reading:

Delaney, L., & Lades, L. K. (2017). Present Bias and Everyday Self‐Control Failures: A Day Reconstruction Study. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 30(5), 1157-1167.

Hofmann, W., Baumeister, R. F., Förster, G., & Vohs, K. D. (2012). Everyday temptations: an experience sampling study of desire, conflict, and self-control. Journal of personality and social psychology, 102(6), 1318.

Hofmann, W., Kotabe, H., & Luhmann, M. (2013). The spoiled pleasure of giving in to temptation. Motivation and Emotion, 37(4), 733-742.

Kahneman, D., Krueger, A. B., Schkade, D. A., Schwarz, N., & Stone, A. A. (2004). A survey method for characterizing daily life experience: The day reconstruction method. Science, 306(5702), 1776-1780.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Derville Rowland Speaks at Behavioural Research Group

Derville Rowland will speak on "Financial Conduct Regulation: Why Understanding Behaviour Matters.". The talk takes place on Wednesday 7th February at 930am in the UCD Geary Institute seminar room. The talk will be followed by a Q+A session ending at 1030am.

Speaker Biography: Derville Rowland was appointed Director General (Financial Conduct) in the Central Bank of Ireland on 1 September 2017 and is responsible for consumer protection, securities and markets supervision, enforcement and policy and risk. Derville is a member of the European Securities and Market Authority (ESMA).Prior to this appointment, Derville was the Director of Enforcement in the Central Bank, where she established and developed the Enforcement Directorate. Previous to this, Derville gained extensive litigation and regulatory experience while practising law at the bar and working as in-house regulatory counsel. Derville is a qualified barrister having being called to the bar in 1996 (Inns of Court School of Law; Inner Temple) and subsequently in 2003 (Kings Inns Dublin).

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Neil Stewart at ESRI

Speaker: Professor Neil Stewart

Venue: ESRI, Whitaker Square, Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2

Registration: There is no fee to attend this event but please register your attendance HERE.

Seminar Topic

Professor Stewart will discuss three papers on behavioural science with mass transaction data.

Paper 1: Gathergood, J., Mahoney, N., Stewart, N., & Weber, J. (2017). How do individuals repay their debt? The balance-matching heuristic (available at SSRN:

We study how individuals repay their debt using linked data on multiple credit cards from five major issuers. We find that individuals do not allocate repayments to the higher interest rate card, which would minimize the cost of borrowing. Instead, individuals allocate repayments using a balance-matching heuristic under which the share of repayments on each card is matched to the share of balances on each card. We show that balance matching captures more than half of the predictable variation in repayments, performs substantially better than other models, and is highly persistent within individuals over time. Consistent with these findings, we show that machine learning algorithms attribute the greatest variable importance to balances and the least variable importance to interest rates in predicting repayment behavior.

Paper 2: Quispe-Torreblanca, E., Stewart, N., Gathergood, J., & Loewenstein, G. (2017). The red, the black, and the plastic: Paying down credit card debt for hotels not sofas (available at SSRN:

Using transaction data from a sample of 1.8 million credit card accounts, we provide the first field test of a major prediction of Prelec and Loewenstein’s (1998) theory of mental accounting. The prediction is that consumers will pay off expenditure on transient forms of consumption more quickly than expenditure on durables. According to the theory, this is because the pain of paying can be offset by the future anticipated pleasure of consumption only when money is spent on consumption that endures over time. Consistent with the prediction, we found that repayment of debt incurred for non-durable goods is an absolute 9% more likely than repayment of debt incurred for durable goods. The size of this effect is comparable to an increment in 15 percentage points in the credit card APR.

Paper 3: Sakaguchi, H., Stewart, N., & Walasek, L. (2017). Selling winners or losers: Two-stage decision making and the disposition effect in stock trading (available at SSRN:

Current methods for estimating the disposition effect implicitly assume that all stocks are evaluated simultaneously in a single decision stage. Here we propose a two-stage model where investors first decide whether to sell a stock in the domain of gains or losses, and only then choose a stock to sell from within their chosen domain. As evidence, we show that the probability of individual gains being sold is inversely proportional to the number of gains in the portfolio, but is not associated with the number of losses. Similarly, the probability of individual losses being sold is inversely proportional to the number of losses in the portfolio, but is not associated with the number of gains. There are two consequences for the disposition effect: First, sell decisions are about the domain of gains versus losses, not just about individual stocks. Second, current regression methods must be refined to avoid substantial bias.

Speaker Bio

Professor Neil Stewart is the Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School in the University of Warwick. He works in the field of behavioural and economic science, and applies this research to problems in the real world. He is currently working on consumer decision making using credit card transaction data, on criminal and other bad behaviour using crime and incident records, and on a mathematical model of consumer decision making called decision by sampling. He uses a mixture of laboratory experiments, field experiments, and data science techniques applied to large data sets.

About the ESRI Seminar Series

The ESRI organises a public seminar series, inviting researchers from both the ESRI and other institutions to present new research on a variety of public policy issues. The seminar series provides access to specialised knowledge and new research methodologies, with the objective of promoting research excellence and facilitating productive dialogue across the policy and research fields.