Sunday, February 08, 2009

Psychology of Recession and Recovery

Gerard O'Neill will speak at 4pm on Monday March 2nd in the UCD Geary Institute on the "Psychology of Recession and Recovery". Gerard has collaborated with Michael Daly and I on a project applying online diary methods and bio-markers to commuting stress and urban planning He also helped a lot in putting this research together and has been a valued colleague for a number of us.

His company Amarach Research conducts research into a wide variety of commercial and policy issues. Gerard himself runs a popular blog called Turbulence Ahead that discusses contemporary issues in Irish society. I hope all those who tune into either of these blogs will consider coming along to Gerard's talk and you will be made very welcome if you have not come to Geary before. As anyone who reads this blog will know, our research group is one of the Geary research groups and runs a very strong and specialised set of academic seminars and we are proud to have continued to do this over the last few years. But we are also very keen to develop a real and and meaningful session with people from outside the academic community analysing these issues and to bust open the discussion of the implications of behavioural economics and related disciplines for policy in Ireland and internationally. We are delighted that Gerard is agreeing to be the first in our public policy series and one of the first talks in the overall irish economic recovery theme.

In preparation for Gerard's talk, I put forward the following points for discussion, some of which Gerard will address in his talk. I will post further items for discussion in the next couple of weeks leading up to his talk.

What areas of psychology are relevant for thinking about the current economic downturn? What insights can be drawn from psychology to promote the process of recovery and reform?

What can we learn from looking at the psychology of how people and institutions make investment decisions in conditions both of strong economic growth and recession? Princeton University Press very kindly emailed to send a copy of the Akerlof and Shiller book so we will do a book club on this before Gerard's talk. I must say that its impressive that PUP emailed me within minutes of putting up that post. A and S are getting good service!

What is happening in the economy at the moment with respect to the psychology of consumption? What is driving current consumption patterns?

Who are suffering most from the current economic downturn? What is the relationship between self-concept and strain resulting from economic downturn?

How important are reference effects both with respect to one's past and with respect to others in understanding the psychological effects associated with the current downturn? What comparisons are people using to decide how well-off or how badly off they are?

How important is the high level of personal debt in conditioning psychological responses to the recession?

What are the implications of the different fates of people at different grades of the public and private sectors for people's level of trust and confidence in the Irish political and economic system?

Is there such a thing as a psychological soft-landing, whereby a poor economic position is buffered by social norms of hardiness, resilience and positive comparisons with a poor past?

How important is Libertarian Paternalism as a philosophy for crafting solutions to the current economic downturn?

What other disciplines should be involved in crafting a discussion of recovery? For example, what role for philosophy, law and political science?

How do we truly extend the discussion to people actually charged with developing policy to promote human welfare? I get regular emails from people expressing gratitude for doing this blog but frustration that so many good ideas are hidden in a language that will never gain currency among people charged with implementation.

What are the implications of online networks for the psychology of recession and recovery? There is a lot of talk about the idea that the current recession and potential recovery is the first to take place under the gaze of constant online attention. What might this attention imply for things like peer and network effects in innovation?


Haydn said...

Hi Liam - I'm sorry i can't be there - or that you guys can't be here - One of the questions I might have asked: it was a finance and property bubble but do we yet understand its implications. Many of the companies I consult with adopted a bonus culture and expanded rapidly based on easy money rather than managerial competence. In fact one of the issues up ahead is how we get this generation of managers to acknowledge the shortcomings within their organisations. Risk and reward has not factored in competence, or the lack of it. What are the psychological and economic dimensions of that?

Liam Delaney said...

I know gerard reads this so lets hope he can answer your question. We will be recording his talk and broadcasting it. I will post details of that on the blog

Anonymous said...

how long is the meting planned to take