Thursday, August 06, 2020

Behavioural Public Policy

I recently joined the editorial board of Behavioural Public Policy, which was formed in 2017 under the editorship of Adam Oliver, Cass Sunstein, and George Akerlof. 
Editors: George A. Akerlof Georgetown University, USA , Adam Oliver London School of Economics and Political Science, UK and Cass R. Sunstein Harvard Law School, USA

Behavioural Public Policy is an interdisciplinary and international peer-reviewed journal devoted to behavioural research and its relevance to public policy. The study of human behaviour is important within many disciplinary specialties and in recent years the findings from this field have begun to be applied to policy concerns in a substantive and sustained way. BPP seeks to be multidisciplinary and therefore welcomes articles from economists, psychologists, philosophers, anthropologists, sociologists, political scientists, primatologists, evolutionary biologists, legal scholars and others, so long as their work relates the study of human behaviour directly to a policy concern. BPP focuses on high-quality research which has international relevance and which is framed such that the arguments are accessible to a multidisciplinary audience of academics and policy makers.
I have been consistently delighted with the content of this journal and feel it filled a huge gap in providing a home journal for the emerging interdisciplinary field of behavioural public policy. The journal has published a wide range of diverse contributions to this area, including work on the ethics and political economy aspects of the field, empirical applications, commentaries on pressing issues, and conceptual pieces on the emergence of the field. It also includes a diverse set of formats, including full articles, commentaries, and a "new voices" section, and has a frequently updated blog. The journal will also soon be complemented by the development of an annual conference in the area. I highly recommend to anyone interested in the applications of behavioural research in public policy go through this journal and it will also be a very strong outlet for the work of researchers and scholars in this area.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Mental Health and Economic Policy

One of my main areas of research is the connection between mental health and economics, and the broad significance of this connection for public policy. A recent post includes the main papers I have worked on with colleagues in this area. A recent paper by Knapp and Wong (2020) is a very useful area of the state of the literature in this area. Many colleagues at LSE, including in the CEP and the Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science have worked on these topics over a long time period. A very positive recent addition has been the development of a network of researchers in this area in the International Health Economics Association. Details of this below and it is certainly worth exploring for any researcher interested in developing their career in this area. 
What is the Mental Health Economics (MHE) Special Interest Group?

One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives according to the World Health Organisation. At any given time roughly 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill health and disability worldwide. Treatment and care for people with mental health disorders can be complex and expensive, creating challenges around how to allocate scarce resources most efficiently, both in high and low income countries. Beyond health care-related costs, the broader economic costs of mental ill-health are also tremendous, with poor mental health leading to lower productivity, more time away from work, higher (criminal) justice costs, among others. Yet, mental health has received little attention, in particular within the study of economics. The Mental Health Economics Special Interest Group, in line with iHEA’s mission, sets out to connect researchers and encourage discussion and debate to further our collective understanding of all aspects of health economic research on mental health.

Aim & Objectives

The health economic inquiry of mental health and mental health care covers a variety of topics and methodologies including cost of illness, outcomes research, economic evaluation, budget impact analyses, econometric methods, policy analysis and health technology assessment. The aim of the MHE SIG is to build a network of health economists worldwide to further our shared understanding of the above, leading to an expanded body of research on the causes and consequences of poor mental health as well as that of the mental health care system. We propose to do so by providing a broad set of opportunities for SIG members to actively engage and collaborate with others in the field.

The objectives of the SIG are to:

Promote a supportive network of health economists interested in mental health and mental health care in low-, middle- and high-income countries;
Exchange experiences, skills and knowledge, and promote collaboration and research opportunities (such as writing manuscripts, grants); and
Share information on mental health initiatives.

The activities of the SIG will include:

Regular engagement of SIG members through an MHE SIG discussion forum where members can submit news about conferences, special issue calls for journals, and new research within the field.
Networking, that is, getting to know others in the field, through face-to-face meetings at conferences as well as online meetings.
Organizing a set of proposed special sessions on mental health as part the iHEA main congress where SIG members can collaborate on creating the session together.
Organising a pre-congress session specifically for SIGs at the iHEA congress, including the one that will be held in Cape Town in 2021.
Ensuring that both SIG and non-SIG organized sessions on mental health do not take place in parallel to ensure that those with an interest in mental health can attend as many sessions on the topic as they desire.
Promoting ECR development through mentoring and supporting students/trainees and early career researchers through inclusivity in session planning.
Ensuring there is at least one convener who is an ECR at any given time to provide opportunities for the SIG to be steered by directly engaging with ECR needs.
Promoting the engagement of colleagues in low- and middle-income countries through a dedicated LMIC Research and Engagement Convener, whose key responsibly is amplifying LMIC members’ research and interests.
Encouraging collaboration among group members to apply for opportunities as a team outside of iHEA (such as grants and publications).
Connecting members for grant applications where the expressed requirement is geographical diversity.
Creating an expert list where members of the SIG can indicate their research experience in terms of topics, methods, as well as world regions, thus allowing other members to easily access information on colleagues experienced in a research area.

MHE SIG Conveners

Panka Bencsik, Founder and Lead Convener
Hareth Al-Janabi, Convener for Research and Dissemination
John Cullinan, Convener for Special Conference Sessions
Giulia Greco, Convener for LMIC Research and Engagement
Sonja de New (née Kassenboehmer), Convener for Special Conference Sessions
Christoph Kronenberg
Long Le, Convener for ECR Development
Claire de Oliveira, Convener for Special Conference Sessions and for Scientific Networking
Irina Pokhilenko, Convener for Research and Dissemination
Jemimah Ride, Convener for Scientific Networking


Membership is open to all iHEA members (regardless of career stage) who are interested in mental health economics/mental health care. Membership can be requested by logging into the iHEA website, selecting the "groups" section and clicking "request to join" the Mental Health Economics Special Interest Group (MHE SIG). Alternatively, members can join the group by contacting a convener of MHE SIG. Membership of researchers working in middle- and low-income countries is strongly encouraged as well as of trainees and early career researchers.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Radio Interview on Deposit Growth in Ireland

I was interviewed yesterday on the behaviour of consumers during covid in Ireland on the RTE "The Business" programme. The interview, with Richard Curran, is available here. I will use this blog occasionally to provide background context and links for interviews such as this.

The first question I was asked was whether I was consuming or saving myself. I answered that I was "cautiously" coming back into circulation like many others in the economy. Several of the answers I gave in the interview were, at least partly, based on the Amarach opinion surveys commissioned by the Department of Health, that I have been involved in designing and are available here. These surveys, along with several other studies, conducted through the covid period in Ireland, reveal a high degree of adherence to public health guidelines and strong support for restrictions. In general, the public has either been in favour of the level of restrictions or in favour of greater degrees of restrictions. While highly visible instances of people going against the letter or spirit of public health guidelines are likely to get media attention, a wide range of survey and mobility data suggests very high rates of compliance, and the survey data, in general, suggests high rates of risk aversion with regard to the virus. 

Related to this, a second thread of the interview related to declines in consumption and increases in deposits in the Irish context over the covid period. For background on this question, it is worth considering a number of recent documents. A particularly useful overview comes from Gabriel Maklouf, the Irish central bank governor, who discusses recent trends in Irish consumption in a recent speech available here. One key image from the speech is below, based on CSO data, showing the sharp decline in consumption arising since the start of covid.  As discussed in the interview and in Governor Maklouf's speech, there are several potential reasons to expect a decline in expenditure. One reason is clearly enforced savings, with many regular types of consumption now being temporarily unavailable. Another is a variant of something we often see in the retirement literature, namely that much of the expenditure we see among people in the labour force relate to things like commuting, hotel accommodation, prepared food, etc., that simply don't need to be incurred when one is furloughed or working from home. The fall in expenditure we often see at retirement was basically extended over hundreds of thousands of workers simultaneously.  

Chart 1

Relatedly, the last few months have seen a dramatic increase in deposits in Irish banks, as illustrated below by the graph from Governor Maklouf's speech. As discussed above, there are many reasons why one might expect a fall in expenditure and these could account for some of this deposit growth. Furthermore, there have been payment breaks on billions of euro of loans, some of which may reflect precautionary behaviour on behalf of workers worried about their labour market security. I referred to potential precautionary effects in the interview and also the possibility that a pattern of highly financially secure households increasing savings during periods of economic uncertainty may also be accounting for some of the deposit growth. The increase in deposits achieves something that many policies in Ireland have failed to achieve over decades, namely increasing the savings rate. However, it potentially comes at the cost of a slowdown in activity in sectors already very hit by covid and with potential employment effects. Furthermore, it is highly likely that the increase in deposits may have come from groups already in reasonable financial situations, something borne out by the CSO surveys. There is a lot more research needed on this but a combination of the various reports from ESRI, CSO, and Central Bank, paints a picture of covid having a disproportionate economic effect on low-to-middle income workers in affected areas such as hospitality and tourism and it is difficult to think that the deposit data reflects a deviation from these tendencies. 
Chart 2

I was asked about the potential for recovery after covid in terms of the build-up of savings leading to increased consumption later in the process. I obviously do not have any particular forecasting powers in this area but it is plausible to think that the build-up of deposits could lead to a rebound in consumption in a covid-free environment and this has been discussed in a number of recent works by the ESRI and Central Bank as well as other commentators on such scenarios. But I did make the point that the very high degree of risk aversion emerging from most data sources suggests this is not something that will happen quickly. An interesting question arose in the interview as to whether norms of responsible behaviour might drive recovery in consumption to some extent. I think it would be worth thinking about this a lot more, particularly if a large amount of this deposit build-up comes from older financially comfortable households, who are considering whether it is appropriate to engage in different types of consumption activity. The extent to which the behaviour of such households might be affected by things like tax rebates for domestic expenditure is worth questioning, particularly policies like offering rebates where deadweight loss and administrative burden might detract from notional stimulus effects. I mentioned in the interview that thinking about different types of safety assurance systems might be a more promising way of sustainably increasing consumption in affected sectors such as hospitality.  More generally, the Irish govt stimulus programme is focused mostly on bolstering the continuity of businesses and employment throughout the period of covid uncertainty and this seems like a more reasonable aim than attempts to directly stimulate expenditure in specific areas through rebates. This was discussed in detail at a recent Oireachtas committee session.


I mentioned briefly the potential role of narratives in shaping responses to crises. The recent Princeton University Press book "Narrative Economics: How Stories Go Viral and Drive Major Economic Events" by Nobel Laureate Robert Shiller is a fascinating account of this and very relevant to the current situation.

I am member of the Central Bank Consumer Advisory Group and the NPHET behavioural change subgroup and have been thinking about these issues a lot over the last few months. Obviously, all thoughts offered here are given in a personal capacity.

The CSO social surveys are a very useful account of the social and economic impacts of covid on Irish households. The ESRI work on the employment and distributional consequences of covid are also very useful references. The IFS in London have also produced a remarkable set of reports on the economic impacts of covid, many of which are highly relevant in the Irish context.

A useful background reference is the research conducted by the Irish Competitiveness and Consumer Protection Council on health of household finances in Ireland

Friday, July 24, 2020

New Policy Case Study: Using behavioural insights to increase patient engagement with validation of hospital waiting lists

I have been on the advisory group of a set of projects run in the Irish Department of Health bringing behavioural science research into the administration of the Irish health service. Details of the first project from this group are available on the website of the OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovation. This project drew from a wide range of literature to improve the communication to patients in the process of validating waiting lists. This is based on work conducted in 2017. Over the last number of years, we have been working on a range of topics, in particular on improving attendance rates in inpatient and outpatient settings. Many of the project advisory team also formed part of the behavioural change subgroup of the covid public health emergency response team in Ireland (described here in a previous post). I will update this post as new papers and publications emerge from the project.

Update: The Department of Health has updated their webpage to include a range of reports in the area of behavioural research and health services. 

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Three recently funded H2020 consortia on trust

See below for three recently funded large-scale H2020 research projects on trust. I am a work-package lead on PERITIA (described in more detail in a previous post). The emergence of covid has obviously added a huge extra dimension to the work being developed through these consortia. The extent to which behavioural and social sciences can improve trust and trustworthiness of public policy institutions is something that I will keep track of in a number of future posts and events and very relevant to PERITIA in particular.

1. PEriTiA: Policy, Expertise and Trust

Project Website:

Project Description in CORDIS:

Start Date: February 1, 2020

End Date: January 31, 2023

Project Leader and Coordinator:

Professor Maria Baghramian

School of Philosophy

University College Dublin



Advisory Board:

Work Package Leaders:

Project Contact Email:

Project Media Contact: Susana Irles,

Project Twitter Handle: @PERITIAnews

Project Facebook Page: PeritiaNews


PERITIA – Policy, Expertise and Trust – is an international research project exploring the conditions under which people trust expertise used for shaping public policy.

Trust is the glue that binds our social interactions. Trust in the provenance and justification of policy measures are essential for their implementation. Socio-technological transformations and the rise of populist politics with its anti-elitist mantra have put public trust in expert opinion and their areas of expertise to the test.

In PERITIA, philosophers, social and natural scientists, policy experts, ethicists, psychologists, media specialists and civil society organisations will come together to investigate the nature and conditions of public trust. The project will review the role of science in policy decision-making and the conditions under which people should trust and rely on expert opinion that shapes public opinion.

The key hypothesis explored conceptually and tested empirically is that affective and normative factors play a central role in decisions to trust, even in cases where judgements of trustworthiness may seem to be grounded in epistemic considerations, such as professional reputation, reliability and objectivity.

The project will use climate change and climate science as a test case. Ultimately, it seeks to design and provide practical tools and indicators which can be applied to measure and establish the trustworthiness of the agents and institutions involved in social and political decision making.


Many policy decisions in contemporary knowledge-based forms of governance are driven by advice, evidence and data provided by experts from diverse arenas. In democratic societies, trust in the provenance and justification of policy measures are essential for their implementation. The rise of populist politics with its anti-elitist mantra has brought the trustworthiness of experts and their areas of expertise into question. PEriTiA brings together philosophers, social and natural scientists, policy experts, ethicists, psychologists, media specialists and civil society organisations to conduct a comprehensive multi-disciplinary investigation of trust in and the trustworthiness of policy related expert opinion. The investigation is carried out in three - theoretical, empirical and ameliorative – phases with the goal of illuminating a topic that has been the subject of much political commentary and media debate in recent years. The key hypothesis explored conceptually and tested empirically is that affective and normative factors play a central role in decisions to trust, even in cases where judgements of trustworthiness may seem to be grounded in epistemic considerations, such as professional reputation, reliability and objectivity. The most ambitious feature of the current project is the application of its theoretical and empirical findings to active attempts at establishing trust, where warranted, between the general public and actors with a central role in the decision-making processes of governance. Our ultimate aim is to provide tools and discover indicators which can be used in measuring and establishing the trustworthiness of the agents involved in social and political decision making. The use of climate change and climate science as a test case in exploring the social, ethical and psychological indicators of trustworthiness is expected to help to construct trust-enhancing narratives regarding the role of science in governance.

Project Design

The investigation is carried out in three – theoretical, empirical and ameliorative – phases with the goal of illuminating a topic that has been the subject of much political commentary and media debate in recent years.

Phase 1 - Theoretical

• Trust and the Conditions for Successful Policy Advice Mechanisms

• Trust in a Changing Media Landscape

• The Ethics of Trust

• Scientific Reputation and Trust

• The Psychology of Trust

Phase 2 - Empirical

• Data Collection through Surveys and Analysis of Existing Data on Trust: Ireland, UK, Norway, Germany, Poland, Italy, France

• Experimental Measures of Trust

• Behavioural Determinants of Trust and Distrust

Phase 3 - Recommendations and outreach

• Behavioural Tools for Building Trust

• Citizen Fora

• Essay Competition “European Youth on Trust”

• Policy Recommendations and Dialogue with Policy Makers

Work Packages

WP1: Project Coordination

WP2: Interaction and Public Engagement

Work Package 2 aims to assure high quality, coherent and effective communication of the project’s ongoing work and outputs.

WP3: Trust and Advice Mechanism

WP3 investigates and compares the existing systems through which experts assume an advisory role in policy-making decisions in four European countries.

WP4: Trust in a Changing Media Landscape

WP4 focuses on the role of digital media in establishing, enhancing or diminishing the levels of trust in experts and the role it has with policy decisions.

WP5: Social Indicators of Trust

WP5 investigates the role of social indicators of experts’ trustworthiness.

WP6: Psychology of Trust

WP6 focuses on the psychological mechanisms of trust and trustworthiness, particularly in the context of trust in scientific expertise.

WP7: Ethics of Trust

WP7 will investigate the ethical requirements of trustworthy expertise as well as the role of ethical considerations in placing trust in policies based on expert advice.

WP8: Data Collection and Analysis of Existing Data

WP9: Experimental Measures of Trust/Distrust

WP9 investigates methodological challenges in studying trusting behaviour and the social factors underlying them. It uses lab based behavioural studies to investigate the determinants of judgements of trust and trustworthiness by members of the public and to test the findings of phase 1.

WP10: Behavioural Tools for Building Trust

WP10 investigates the emotional and cognitive components of trusting behaviour. As in WP 9, it uses lab based behavioural studies to investigate the determinants of judgements of trust and trustworthiness by members of the public and to test the findings of phase 1.

WP11: Citizens’ Fora

WP 11 runs Citizen’s Fora to create opportunities for encounters between representative groups from the general public and experts, policy-makers and journalists specialising in the area of climate change.

Project Outputs

Team Research Output:

Team Publications:

Media Coverage:


First Newsletter

Related Projects

2. EnTrust : Enlightened trust: An examination of trust and distrust in governance – conditions, effects and remedies.

Project Website:

Project Description in CORDIS:

Start Date: February 1, 2020

End Date: January 31, 2024


Prof. Dr. Christian Lahusen,
Department of Social Sciences
University of Siegen, Germany

Advisory Board:

Project Contact Email:
Project Twitter Handle: @EnTrust_Project

Project Presentation:


EnTrust consists of an interdisciplinary and well-integrated consortium of seven research teams from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland and Serbia with expertise in sociology, psychology, political science, media and communication studies, as well as a civil society practitioner active at the EU level. Our work plan will generate novel theoretical and empirical insights on the basis of interlocked methods, including in-depth interviews and focus groups with citizens and governance actors, analyses of online and social media content, as well as a representative population survey and various experiments. Moreover, it will make use of innovative instruments to secure a high level of dissemination, exploitation and communication. Our goal is to provide tangible and viable recommendations for policymakers, civil society actors and the scientific community to improve trust relations.


In EnTrust, we will provide novel insights into trust in governance and measures to support sustainable and democratic societies in Europe. Our project has five overarching objectives:

Develop a multidisciplinary theoretical framework to understand the dynamic relationship between trust and distrust, in order to promote new forms of enlightened trust in democratic governance;

Provide a comprehensive empirical dataset based on mixed methods and geared to measure how trust and distrust are constructed at individual, meso, and macro levels in relation to governance actors across local, national and European levels;

Systematically compare and map trust and distrust across European countries to understand context-specific forms of trust and distrust, their conditions and consequences;

Develop role models and best practices enabling to promote enlightened trust; and

Engage in active exploitation, dissemination and communication activities to reach the highest possible impact of our findings.

Work Packages

EnTrust comprises seven research-related work packages.

1. The Theoretical and Normative Underpinnings of Trust and Distrust

Work Package 1 assembles and integrates available knowledge about trust and distrust in governance and provides a comprehensive and interdisciplinary account of forms, determinants and consequences of trust and distrust. As on ongoing process, it develops, deepens and enriches a conceptual-theoretical model that both informs and reflects the investigations of the other work packages.

2. Trust and Distrust at the Street-level of Public Policy

Work Package 2 analyses the mechanisms of building trust and distrust in relations between citizens and street-level bureaucracy in the sphere of support to disadvantaged families. It investigates how both public administration representatives and citizens who contact them when applying for family benefits or services establish their mutual attitudes of trust and distrust, and the reciprocal perceptions of un/trustworthiness.

3. The Role of Democratic Social Movements in the Formation of Trust and Distrust

Work Package 3 focuses on grassroots social movements as alternative arenas of political participation in creating and reproducing trust and distrust. It seeks to gather information on the interaction and possible interplay between citizens’ withdrawal from institutional political arenas and the rise of contemporary contentious politics manifested as the increased participation of citizens in new social movement practices. More specifically, this work package is geared to finding out whether and to what extent new social grassroots movements are capable of mobilising citizens’ distrust in institutions, of making productive use of it, and eventually of transforming it into new practices of ‘enlightened trust’ building.

4. The Role of the Media in Trust and Distrust Building: Information or Polarisation?
Work Package 4 aims to deepen and expand our understanding of the impact of digital media technologies, as well as the changing role of journalism on trust mediation between political and economic governance, scientific expertise, and citizens. It elucidates the conditions under which media coverage of governance performance and scientific facts can lead to either informed opinion-making and criticism or the polarisation of political opinions, the mobilisation of extreme positions and the spread of fake news that targets the trustworthiness of scientists, government and political representatives.

5. Developmental-psychological Insight Into Trust and Distrust

Work Package 5 studies psychological correlates and patterns of trust in governance, including their developmental changes from childhood to adulthood. It develops an analytical model on how individuals at various life stages construct their conceptualisations of trust and distrust, identifies the role played by specific everyday experiences in proximal contexts for building expectations of trust or distrust in more distal political institutions and public authorities, and provides new insights into the aspects of governance that increase and decrease its perceived legitimacy from the perspective of different age groups.

6. Appraising Citizens’ Trust and Distrust in Governance: Forms, Determinants, Effects and Remedies

Work Package 6 develops a comprehensive and new measurement of trust and distrust in governance by means of a multi-methods approach. The first step generates survey data that deliver an accurate and representative picture of forms and levels of trust and distrust within the population of European countries, with an emphasis on the relationships between political trust and forms of radicalisation and extremism. This allows us to empirically assess the importance of determinants and consequences of trust and distrust at the individual and contextual levels. Based on these insights, Work Package 6 tests the effects of policy deliberation on trust and distrust in governance via online deliberative experiments involving citizens and political representatives, and draws conclusions about the potential contribution of policy deliberations for restoring trust in governance and promoting ‘enlightened trust’.

7. Civilising Trust and Distrust: Role Models and Recommendations

Work Package 7 is concerned with the practical implications of the project’s findings about the relationships between civil society organisations and social movements with public authorities, and the dynamic relationship of trust and distrust in which they are engaged. Moreover, it generates additional insights into trust and distrust relations at the EU-level through its monitoring of policy documents and existing practices of European governance, its engagement in deliberations with civil society organisations, its identification of best practices, and its development of policy and practical recommendations.

First Deliverable

Report: First Manuscript on Trust and Mistrust in Governance

3. TiGRE : Trust in Governance and Regulation in Europe.

Project Website:

Project Description in CORDIS:

Project in brief:

Project Infosheet:

Start Date: January 1, 2020

End Date: June 30, 2023

Project Coordinator

Martino Maggetti, Université de Lausanne


Deputy Coordinator

Edoardo Guaschino, Université de Lausanne



Project Contact Email:


In TiGRE, we believe that an optimal level of trust is a precondition and a consequence of well-functioning of regulatory regimes, which operate across different levels of governance for carrying out regulatory policies. In this context, we will investigate under which conditions regulatory regimes are trusted by analysing the interactions between the involved actors. We aim to draw a more encompassing picture of trust dynamics and understand their drivers as well as their political and socio-economic effects.

TiGRE is a multidisciplinary research project which benefits from the expertise of nine top-level universities and research centres and one SME, from nine different countries, bringing together a broad range of theoretical and methodological skills.


What are the drivers of trust relationships within regulatory regimes ?

In order to identify such drivers, we will explore under which conditions regulatory regimes are trusted by analysing variables related to countries, regimes, and individuals, as well as the impact of practices at the organisation level (transparency, accountability and participation).

What are the consequences of trust on the functioning of regulatory regimes ?
We will explore the relation between trust dynamics and the extent of cooperation between stakeholders at different levels. In addition, we will analyse the effects of these processes on the functioning and evolution of regulatory governance in terms of regulatory consent, compliance and legitimacy.

What about citizens’ trust in regulatory regimes ?
We aim to deeply understand how citizens have trust in regulatory agencies, companies and service providers within specific regulatory regimes. To identify the drivers of such perceptions, we will investigate the effect of regulatory practices (regulatory instruments, enforcement styles such as degree of coerciveness) as well as variables related to countries, sectors, and individuals.
What is the role of the media ?

We will analyse how the media influence trust dynamics within regulatory regimes. We will also explore the impact of the different communication strategies used by regulatory agencies during and after incidents of regulatory breakdowns to face intense criticism and repair trust.

In TiGRE, we have the ambition to explore trust relationships at different levels of governance such as regional, national and European and in three high value sectors: Food Safety, Finance and Communication & Data protection.

To achieve our goals, we will use a variety of methods, such as questionnaires for large-scale surveys, case studies, focus groups, experimental studies and media content analysis among others. We will target and be in regular contact with European stakeholders, representing a broad range of regulatory actors.

First Deliverable

Research note "Trust in COVID-19 government policies":

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

SHAPE: Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts for People and the Economy

The British Academy recently launched a new initiative to promote the role of social sciences, arts, and humanities.  Details of the initiative are available on the following website and spelt out below. Many recent UK science policy documents, consistent with other countries, have pointed to the importance of investing in STEM disciplines to drive innovation and there is clearly an important rationale to keep a wider set of factors in mind when thinking about SHAPE disciplines in terms of key components of human welfare. The recent developments with covid is a prime example of the importance of considering social and economic aspects of large-scale problems and the limits of purely technological and medical approaches to dealing with such complex processes. The extent to which any acronym is useful is obviously an open question but I am certainly supportive of the goals of this initiative and will be following it as it progresses throughout the next few years.
SHAPE is a new collective name for those subjects that help us understand ourselves, others and the human world around us. They provide us with the methods and forms of expression we need to build better, deeper, more colourful and more valuable lives for all. 
Academic and business leaders believe the future lies in recognising and capturing the value of SHAPE disciplines themselves, as well as how they work together with STEM to build a better functioning future.
The extraordinary times we’re all currently living through show us just how crucial SHAPE subjects are in keeping life running, care going, communities together, the economy working, the environment sustainable and people’s spirits lifted.
Some recent blogs and commentary related to SHAPE (thanks to Shivani Shukla for keeping track of these).

1. Panel Discussion on SHAPE by Jesus College Oxford, on July 17, 2020
6. Opinion piece in The Guardian, by Peter Bazalgette: Why the arts must shape our future
11. Coverage in the Marketing Gazette: Shape campaign: A rebranding of ‘soft’ academic subjects
12. Blog article on SHAPE: SHAPE-ing the Future 
13. Mention of SHAPE in Research Libraries UK:

Monday, July 13, 2020

Upcoming Book: Noise

I look forward to the publication of the upcoming book "Noise" by Kahneman, Sunstein, and Sibony.
A 2016 HBR article by Kahneman and colleagues gives a sense of the potential scope of the work. A brief description of the concept is below and the article itself is worth reading for people interested in applying these ideas in organisational contexts.
Professionals in many organizations are assigned arbitrarily to cases: appraisers in credit-rating agencies, physicians in emergency rooms, underwriters of loans and insurance, and others. Organizations expect consistency from these professionals: Identical cases should be treated similarly, if not identically. The problem is that humans are unreliable decision makers; their judgments are strongly influenced by irrelevant factors, such as their current mood, the time since their last meal, and the weather. We call the chance variability of judgments noise. It is an invisible tax on the bottom line of many companies.
The core of the idea is to understand how inconsistent decisions arise in environments even in cases where information is relatively consistent across similar decision-making units. The authors distinguish noise from the more common idea of bias along the lines of the diagram below. They propose a range of ways in which organisations can audit the extent to which their decision-making processes can lead to noisy outcomes. The concept of "noise audits" is a very interesting one and likely to find traction in a range of settings where people are frustrated at a lack of predictability in assessment and evaluation setttings. 


The book is not available yet to review but it is worth at least engaging with the HBR article and the ideas contained there. I have mentioned it in a number of recent lectures and post here so people who attended these sessions have a reminder and the relevant links. Kahneman, Lovallo, and Sibony's HBR article "The Big Idea: Before you make that big decision" is one of my favourite pieces to discuss in executive education sessions and bundles a remarkable amount of literature into a very accessible treatment of 12 psychological factors to consider when making large-scale decisions in organisational contexts. I posted previously on the key articles I have used in undergraduate contexts in this area and I will post at a later stage on the main articles I have used for exec contexts. I hope that Noise will be a key reference in this regard in the future.