Wednesday, July 19, 2017

UCD Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Position in Behavioural Economics

See below for an excellent opportunity to work with our colleague Suzanne Kingston and her team.

UCD Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Level 1 or Level 2, UCD School of Law (Temporary Maternity cover)  - Economics/Psychology/Environmental Governance
Applications are invited for a temporary postdoctoral researcher, UCD Sutherland School of Law. The successful candidate will be offered a fixed-term contract to provide maternity cover for a European Research Council Project until 20 April 2018.

This is an exciting opportunity to play an important role as a postdoctoral researcher, as part of a cutting-edge project investigating the way that laws influence our decisions to engage (or not to engage) in environmentally compliant behaviour in Europe. Funded by the European Research Council, you will be the postdoctoral researcher on the project, and will form part of an interdisciplinary international team of six people, comprising Professor Kingston, 3 Ph.D. students, a research assistant and the postdoctoral researcher.

This appointment may be made at either Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Level 1 or Level 2 depending on the relevant experience and qualifications of the successful candidate.

Closing Date: 17:00hrs (Local Irish Time) Tuesday 25th July 2017.

For further details please visit (see vacancy number 009518) 

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Behavioural Science and Public Policy Launch

On September 8th, we will host a one-day workshop to launch our new programme on behavioural science and public policy at UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy. The programme is based at the Institute and works in conjunction with colleagues at the UCD School of Economics and College of Social Sciences and Law. The sign-up page for the event is here. The event will take place from between 9am and 430pm. Our keynote speaker will be Professor Peter John from UCL.

Event Programme 

9am to 930am: Coffee, Registration, and Welcome 

930am to 1045am: Presentations on Measurement in Behavioural Science and Policy 

1045am to 1115am: Coffee

1115am to 1230pm: Presentations on Economic Behaviour and the Lifecycle

1230pm to 130pm: Lunch 

130pm to 245pm: Presentations on Ethics and Public Policy 

2.45pm to 3pm: Coffee

3pm to 415pm: Launch and Keynote Speaker Professor Peter John

See below for details of our new initiative: 


- A behavioural science research centre based in the UCD Geary Institute of Public Policy around 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 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 last year’s workshop available here (

- 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 hub for research into consumer decision making. This new hub, 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 (

- Development of the economics, psychology, and policy blog to further act as a widely used resource. (

- Collaboration with policy-makers to promote best practice in design and evaluation of behaviourally-informed public policies.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Economics, Psychology, and Policy Links 17-06-2017

As part of the development of our new group in Dublin, we will be updating the blog over the next few months and I hope to post a lot more. We will launch our new research cluster on September 8th with Professor Peter John as keynote (Details here). Currently, we are in the process of recruiting postdocs and PhD students, and we are starting a new MSc in September. I hope that Dublin will be seen as a vibrant place for the emerging behavioural public policy field.

1. BIT are hiring.

2. The twitter account for the Society for the Advancement of Behavioural Economics is available here

3.  Stirling University are hiring a Professor in Behavioural Science and Health 

4. The Behavioural Economics Guide 2017 is out. This is an excellent and comprehensive overview of behavioural economics across sectors.

5. "Economic Psychology - An Introduction" Textbook by Erich Kirchler and Erik Hoelzl (November 2017)

6. OECD "Tackling Environmental Problems with the Help of Behavioural Insights"  Extensive resources across many areas.

7. Irish government evaluation service primer on starting behavioural trials.

8. Video of Cass Sunstein's recent talk at UCD.

9. First issue of the new journal Behavioural Public Policy, edited by Cass Sunstein, Adam Oliver, and George Akerlof.

10. Peter John interviewed on his new book "How Far to Nudge".

11. Signup page for our July 11th Irish Behavioural Science and Policy network session with Dilip Soman. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Temporary Role Research Assistant

Research Assistant Needed for Behavioural Science Research

Applications are invited for an hourly paid role as a Research Assistant located within the UCD Geary Institute. The successful candidate will be offered a part-time role on an hourly basis for 6-8 weeks at 35 hours a week to commence with immediate effect.

The researcher will be based at the Geary Institute and will provide research support, deliverables and project work to Prof Liam Delaney in developing the behavioural science and public policy programme at UCD Geary Institute.

Pay: €10.55 per hour

Please send a cover letter outlining your skills and interest in the area and CV to Emma Barron,
Closing Date: Friday, 30th June 2017 at 17:00.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Temporary Role Qualitative Research Assistance

Research Assistant Needed for Qualitative Research

Applications are invited for an hourly paid role as a Research Assistant located within the UCD Geary Institute. The successful candidate will be offered a part-time role on an hourly basis for 6 weeks at 20 hours a week to commence with immediate effect.

The successful candidate will provide research support, deliverables and project work to Dr Slawa Rokicki on a research project in the field of adolescent reproductive health in Sub-Saharan Africa. The project involves analysing 32 qualitative in-depth interviews about sexual behaviour and contraceptive use conducted with young women in Ghana. The main tasks will include coding of qualitative interview data and literature review.

Pay: €10.55 per hour

Please send applications and CV’s to Dr Slawa Rokicki,
Closing Date: Monday, 12th June 2017 at 17:00
Emma Barron
Geary Institute for Public Policy

University College Dublin

T : (353) - 1 - 7164616

Thursday, May 04, 2017

PhD Scholarships at UCD School of Economics

UCD School of Economics is pleased to announce a call for applications for the 2017-18 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 annual stipend of between €12,000 and €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.

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).

Complete applications must be submitted on or before 18 May 2017. New applicants who are short-listed for a scholarship will then be contacting for a short interview, either in person, via phone, or via computer (such as Skype). The school will then conduct interviews with each finalist, either in person, via phone, or via the computer (such as Skype). Scholarships will be awarded on approximately May 31, 2017. Successful applicants have until 15 June 2017 to notify the school of their decision whether or not to accept the scholarship. Additional scholarships may be awarded in June or July depending on availability.

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.

If you are interested in applying for these scholarships, please review the associated terms and conditions carefully.

Click here for the application form. Completed forms should be emailed to

Click here for the terms and conditions for the scholarships.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Irish Revenue Randomised Trials

This month the Irish Revenue Commissioners (responsible for tax administration) published the results of 20 randomised trials they have conducted in the area of behavioural design. This is a significant report in terms of Irish public policy and also contributes to the growing international literature in this area. A summary of the report is below. 
While audit and other risk management interventions are effective compliance tools, they can be expensive and time consuming for both Revenue and taxpayers. Targeted treatments using behavioural science can be a complementary and cost-effective tool to improve compliance. A summary of key findings across four behavioural insights is below. 
Deterrence: Deterrence strategies (e.g., highlighting possible sanctions) dissuade taxpayers from non-compliant behaviour. The research confirms that deterrent effects significantly improve taxpayer compliance, particularly when combined with other insights. They impact different taxpayer segments differently. 
Simplification and Salience: Compliance or other behaviours can be enhanced through simpler presentation of information and by drawing attention to key details. For tax administrations, this may involve highlighting the third-party information held, for example through correspondence or the pre-filling of tax returns. Information in any communications should be presented in the most clear and simple way possible, including bolding and centred text. 
Personalisation: International research has shown the potential of more personalised correspondence, which is increasingly becoming a possibility given technological advancements. Revenue trials confirm that personalisation leads to greater and quicker engagement, especially when multiple elements of personalisation are applied. 
Social Norms: The behaviour of others can influence an individual’s choices. Revenue research finds that social norms are generally not effective at influencing behaviour. However, there is limited evidence indicating that these may improve taxpayer compliance when combined with other insights. 
According to a meta-analysis, which weights the result of 20 trials by sample size, the most effective insights tend to be deterrence (+8.0% improvement in targeted behaviour), personalisation (+4.0%) simplification and salience (+3.3%) and social norms (-1.6%). The wording and design of communications can affect taxpayer compliance. Even seemingly insignificant changes to correspondence can significantly change behaviour. While these lessons have mainly been learned from letters, they should be considered in any Revenue communication with taxpayers.