Behavioural Science is a rapidly expanding field and everyday new research is being developed in academia, tested and implemented by practitioners in financial organisation, development agencies, government ‘nudge’ units and more. This interview is part of a series interviewing prominent people in the field. And in today's interview the answers are provided by Lucía Macchia. Lucía is a Lecturer in Psychology at City University of London, and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School. She is a behavioural scientist with an interdisciplinary background and an interest in happiness, physical pain, socioeconomic factors, and public policy. Integrating methods from psychology and behavioural economics, she explores how socioeconomic factors shape emotional well-being and physical pain as well as the link between emotional and physical well-being. To study these topics, she uses large-scale datasets, experiments, and a wide variety of statistical methods.
Who or what got you into behavioural science?
When I finished my undergrad in business, I started working in the financial sector of a private company. I didn’t enjoy my work so, I started reading around areas that I found interesting. While doing this research, I fell in love with how we make decisions, and how we pursue happiness.
What is the accomplishment you are proudest of as a behavioural scientist? And what do you still want to achieve?
Tough question! I’ve been thinking about this question for a bit and couldn’t come up with a tangible outcome. I’m proud of having had the courage to abandon a comfortable but unhappy life to do a job that brings me joy every day (except for those days when I get a rejection!). I look forward to writing a book at some point.
If you weren’t a behavioural scientist, what would you be doing?
I think I’d still be a researcher. I can’t imagine myself doing something different. If behavioural science is not an option, I’d probably get into health sciences or epidemiology.
How do you apply behavioural science in your personal life?
I use behavioural science to understand my own decisions and try to make better ones.
With all your experience, what skills would you say are needed to be a behavioural scientist? Are there any recommendations you would make?
Curiosity about one’s decisions. Behavioural Science is present in everyday life, and I believe that the best research questions are those that come from personal experiences.
How do you think behavioural science will develop (in the next 10 years)?
I think that bigger datasets with behavioural measures will be created.
What advice would you give to young behavioural scientists or those looking to progress into the field?
Be resilient, have discipline, find joy in what you do, and keep going!
Which other behavioural scientists would you love to read an interview by?
I’d suggest two great behavioural scientists: Ailin Tomio and Joaquin Navajas.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions Lucía!
As I said before, this interview is part of a larger series which can also be found here on the blog. Make sure you don't miss any of those, nor any of the upcoming interviews!
Keep your eye on Money on the Mind!