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.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Geary Institute and Amarach Research Event: Decisions and Well-Being in the Irish Population

Geary Institute and Amarach Research Event: Decisions and Well-Being in the Irish Population 

Venue: Institute of Banking, Main Auditorium. Details of how to get to the venue are available here

Time: 1115am to 1pm.

Overview: We are delighted to invite you to a joint event being run by the Geary Institute for Public Policy and Amarach Research on well-being and decision making in Ireland. The use of well-being data in business and policy has attracted substantial international attention over the last decade but far more work is need to ground such data in practical applications in the Irish population. Similarly, the area of behavioural economics has become a major topic of interest, evidenced by the recent Nobel award. Yet the creation of data to develop applications of this area in Ireland is lacking so far. At the event, Professor Liam Delaney from UCD and Dr. Leonhard Lades EPA Research Fellow in Behavioural Economics will present findings on well-being and daily decision making in a representative sample of 1,000 people in the Irish population. The results display fascinating patterns of well-being and decision making across areas such as diet, work, social media, and many other areas of interest. It will be followed by a panel discussion addressing the potential uses of well-being and everyday diary decision data in Ireland. Some key topics include: how to use such data to evaluate well-being initiatives in workplace settings, how to measure the role of policy in shaping health and well-being in the population, how to evaluate the extent to which social media and smartphone use is contributing to positive and negative well-being and productivity outcomes. The event will be of interest to anyone involved in developing or consuming market research data and academics and professionals evaluating projects across a wide range of sectors.

Please register on this link. Registration is free but spaces are limited.

1115: Start

1115 - 1130: Overview: Liam Delaney (15 minutes)

1130 - 1200: Results: Leonhard Lades (30 minutes)

1200 - 1245: Discussion: Panel Chaired by Gerard O'Neill, Amarach Research

Friday, January 12, 2018

Call for Papers: Irish Economics Postgraduate and Early Career Conference 2018

Call for Papers: Irish Economics Postgraduate and Early Career Conference 2018
The Irish Society for New Economists (ISNE) workshop for postgraduate and early career researchers will take place in University College Dublin Geary Institute for Public Policy on Friday May 4th. The event is aimed at PhD students and early career researchers across the Irish universities. It will take the form of thematic sessions with faculty discussant input at each session, along with keynote talks, and engagement with policy and industry. We welcome submissions of papers from PhD students and early career researchers in institutions on the island of Ireland.

The ISNE was formed to encourage research, information and social links among economists at the early stages of their careers in Ireland. From 2001 to 2013, the Irish Society for New Economists (ISNE) held eleven workshops in Ireland for postgraduate and early career researchers. The events were run mostly by PhD students in the Universities, including events hosted by UCD, TCD, Limerick, Maynooth, Cork, and Galway. The conference is intended for advanced Masters students, PhD students, and young professionals in the early stages of research working in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. We strongly encourage those working on economics-related research to submit. Eligibility to present is not related to age. The meeting will feature the work and findings of scholars in economics and related fields, and will provide an excellent opportunity to present your own research results and work in progress.

As the conference is free to attend, no financial assistance for travel or accommodation can be provided. Researchers wishing to submit their work for consideration are advised to submit an extended abstract (300-500 words) at this link. Applicants are asked to include their name, institute or affiliation, current academic status (PhD, Young Professional, Masters) and JEL code(s) for their research on submitting an abstract. All of the above information should be attached in a /single PDF or Word File/. The deadline for the abstract submission is Friday, 30th March 2018. Applicants will receive notification shortly afterwards. The organising committee consists of Dr. Lisa Ryan, Dr. Benjamin Elsner, and Professor Liam Delaney at UCD, and Dr. Michelle Queally at NUI Galway. Please direct inquiries to

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Opportunities for Behavioural Economics in Dublin

Below are some potential routes to study and work in this area with our group in UCD.

a) Our MSc in Behavioural Economics is recruiting for the 2018/2019 round. This is one-year programme covering core economics modules and a wide range of modules and engagments in behavioural economics.

b) Those considering a PhD in the area should look at the PhD scholarships in the UCD School of Economics. I can speak to people who are interested in doing a PhD in the area of behavioural economics.

c) See this link for a wide range of funding calls forthcoming from the main Irish government research funder, the IRC. There are calls that suit PhD applicants, early career researchers, and external partners.