St John's College Oxford
Dr Severine Toussaert

Dr Severine Toussaert

Tutorial Fellow in Economics

Biography

Before moving to Oxford, I was Assistant Professor of Behavioural Science at the London School of Economics, my first job after graduating from a PhD in economics at New York University. I was teaching in an executive MSc programme to professionals interested in applying the insights of behavioural science to their work.

What inspired you to pursue your subject?

I have always had an interest for the social sciences. As a high school student in France, I chose the social science track and was introduced to various subjects in economics, sociology and political science. I refined my interest for economics as an undergraduate student at Sciences Po in Paris. I found the first-year lectures and small group sessions both very challenging and inspiring, and I decided to learn more by studying for a separate degree in economics. A foundational year for me was my third year as an undergraduate. As part of my degree, I spent one year at the University of Chicago as an exchange student. I was introduced to the methodology of experimental economics and took a course on judgement and decision making in the department of psychology. I had a lot of fun learning about those topics. During my graduate studies, I discovered behavioural economics, a blend of economics and psychology… the beginning of a love story!

Teaching

As part of my college teaching, I teach tutorials for Prelims Microeconomics (first year) and Quantitative Economics (second year). I also lecture at the Department of Economics in an MPhil course on behavioural economics. I look forward to supervising students interested in running experiments.

Recent publications

  • “Eliciting temptation and self-control through menu choices: a lab experiment”, Econometrica, Vol. 86, No. 3 (2018), 859-889.
  • “Choice Deferral, Indecisiveness and Preference for Flexibility” (with Leonardo Pejsachowicz), Journal of Economic Theory, Vol. 170 (2017), 417-425.
  • “Intention-Based Reciprocity and Signaling of Intentions”. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Vol. 137 (2017), 132-144

Research Interests

My work lies at the intersection of behavioural decision science and experimental methods. I am particularly interested in understanding the mechanisms by which behaviour change can be not only triggered, but also sustained in the long run. Part of my research agenda looks at the role played by self-control in explaining goal achievement, as well as the “commitment strategies” that individuals adopt in order to keep their temptations at bay.  More recently, I have been interested in the study of pride as a motivational force. One major area of application is health. With an interdisciplinary team of researchers and financial support from the American Cancer Society, I am currently working on a long-term public health project: developing a gamified smoking cessation app that will help smokers quit their bad habit for good.