In this one-day programme Professor Liam Delaney, SIRE Professor of Economics at the University of Stirling, examines how people make decisions and why it matters for shaping public policy.

Behavioural Economics has become a vital area in understanding behaviour and public policy. The recent setting up of the Social and Behavioural Sciences Team within the White House, itself modelled on the UK’s Behavioural Insights Team, clearly demonstrates that governments and regulators have become increasingly interested in understanding human behaviour and grounding policies in evidence from the behavioural literature. This new course from Behavioural Insights Training provides a comprehensive overview of the key literatures on behavioural economics and their relevance to public policy and regulation.

Taught by an expert in the area, this course provides the key concepts in this area and examines their relevance for understanding people’s decision making process and public policy.

About the Programme

Bringing about change – influencing change in people’s attitudes and behaviours – is at the heart of all of our programmes in Behavioural Insights Training. In order to influence change effectively, you need first to understand why people behave in the ways that they do.

As we have refined our programmes over the years – whether internal organisational change programmes, sales programmes for products and services, or wider public attitude change campaigns, we have repeatedly seen the importance of understanding people and their motivation before choosing a course of action or beginning to communicate.

You will see from Professor Liam Delaney’s biography that this very understanding of human behaviour and the ways in which people respond – and why – is his life’s work. And we are delighted to partner with him in the delivery of a suite of programmes in this vital area.

The course examines

The basic ideas of behavioural economics including:

  • How people make decisions; how they think about risk and their future
  • Inertia and switching behaviour
  • Social proofing
  • Procrastination and several other relevant concepts

The main ways that policy-makers can change behaviour and the practical and ethical issues associated with behavioural change techniques.

We will review several examples of how these ideas apply in the context of public policy and regulation. We will review a wide variety of applications in areas ranging from tax policy, pensions, energy efficiency and several others.

By the end of the course, participants should have a solid grounding in the key ideas of behavioural economics and their relevance to public policy.

Who is delivering the course?

Professor Liam Delaney

Liam Delaney is Professor of Economics at UCD and Visiting Professor of Economics at Stirling University. A former Fulbright and Marie Sklodowska Curie Fellow, he was Deputy Director of the UCD Geary Institute from 2008 to 2011, and Deputy Dean of Stirling Management School from 2011 to 2016.

He has worked at the intersection of economics and psychology for his career and has published widely in both economics and psychology journals, including Economic Journal, Journal of European Economics Association, Health Psychology, Psychological Science, and Journal of Applied Psychology.

His main research interests lie in using novel measures of well-being and time preferences to shed light on long-running questions about the determinants of health and well-being. He is particularly interested in the measurement foundations of behavioural welfare economics and has built several interdisciplinary projects examining how to measure real-world economic preferences.

He is currently developing a major new centre for behavioural science and public policy at UCD Geary Institute. He was co-director of the Behavioural Science Centre in Stirling Management School, a thriving research centre that he developed in 2012. He was also PhD Director of the Scottish Graduate Programme in Economics and one of six directors of the major pooling initiative for Economics in Scotland, the Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE). He was Director of Research in the Stirling Management School and Deputy Head of School and has been involved in developing the School’s structure and research potential, including coordinating the 2014 REF submission and drafting the School’s research strategy. Previously, he was Deputy Director and a senior researcher in the UCD Geary Institute, and a lecturer holding a tenured appointment with the UCD School of Public Health and Population Science and the UCD School of Economics.  He lectured econometrics, health economics and behavioural economics in University College Dublin and supervised post-graduate students in economics and public health.  He was the Irish coordinator of the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe, principal investigator of the Irish University Study and led a number of studies relating to human behaviour, well-being and health.  Dr. Delaney received his Ph.D. in economics in 2005 from Trinity College Dublin.  He was a postdoctoral research fellow with the Economic and Social Research Institute from 2004 to 2005.  In 2009, he received the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland’s Barrington Medal.  He was a 2011 Fulbright Fellow at Princeton University.

He has published in journals such as Social Science and MedicineDemographyHealth PsychologyFiscal StudiesJournal of Health EconomicsJournal of the Royal Statistical SocietyEconomics of Education ReviewJournal of the European Economics AssociationEconomic Inquiryand Journal of Economic Psychology.