Meet the EEI team

The EEI is engaged in various research projects on behavioural economics, behavioural public policy and management, and sustainability. The EEI offers teaching on topics such as behavioural economics and sustainability, and collaborates with degree programmes including MBA, Executive MBA and MPhil at Cambridge Judge Business School. Upcoming activities include hosting the 3rd International Behavioural Public Policy Conference on 23-25 June 2024.

Lucia Reisch

El-Erian Professor of Behavioural Economics and Policy

Director, El-Erian Institute of Behavioural Economics and Policy

Professor Lucia Reisch was appointed in 2021 as the inaugural El-Erian Professor of Behavioural Economics & Policy and Fellow of Queens’ College, joining from Copenhagen Business School. Lucia is a behavioural economist and social scientist, whose work includes research in sustainable consumption, behavioural public policy, and consumers and digitisation.

She is an Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Consumer Policy and has worked on sustainable consumption and other issues with the OECD, the European Commission, the World Bank, various United Nations agencies as well as several governments worldwide. As the El-Erian Institute Director she is giving specific attention to mentoring early career researchers, particularly those currently less represented at the Business School.

“I am excited that the El-Erian Institute for Behavioural Economics and Policy is now part of the vibrant research and educational environment of Cambridge Judge Business School. With its interdisciplinary research, applied education, and team lab approach, the institute could not be better placed. We will continue to develop as a lively platform for researchers and practitioners, students and policymakers alike to study and learn how to effectively ‘nudge for good’.”

Malte Dewies

Research Associate, El-Erian Institute of Behavioural Economics and Policy

PhD (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Aiswarya Sunil

Research Assistant, El-Erian Institute of Behavioural Economics and Policy

MSc (Warwick University)

Aga Niedzwiecka

Centre Manager, El-Erian Institute of Behavioural Economics and Policy

With over 7 years of experience at Cambridge Judge Business School, Aga possesses an in-depth understanding of the higher education landscape. Her expertise lies in administering research centres, programme management, and strategic planning.

Beyond Aga’s professional credentials, she is passionate about understanding team dynamics and cultivating an environment that fosters team development and talent retention. In her spare time she volunteers, dedicating her time to supporting others.

Sorin Thode

Research Assistant, El-Erian Institute of Behavioural Economics and Policy

BSc Psychology (McGill University), MSc Behavioural Science (London School of Economics and Political Science)

Sorin’s research examines behaviour change for sustainable development, with a current focus on food sustainability.

Other areas of interest include social data science and applying behavioural science to health and social media.

Email: [email protected]

Micha Kaiser

Senior Research Associate, El-Erian Institute of Behavioural Economics and Policy

PhD (University of Hohenheim)

Paul Lohmann

Research Associate, El-Erian Institute of Behavioural Economics and Policy

PhD (University of Cambridge)

Atiyeh Yeganloo

Research Associate, El-Erian Institute of Behavioural Economics and Policy

MRes/PhD (University of Manchester)

Annabel Elad

Communications and Events Coordinator, El-Erian Institute of Behavioural Economics and Policy

Annabel is a marketing communications specialist with extensive experience across a variety of organisations in the non-profit sector. She has led the production of numerous international events, involving donors, government officials, commercial sponsors and the general public. She is a Trustee of a cultural heritage education charity, and a Fundraising and Charity Marketing MSc graduate.

Email: [email protected]

Access Annabel’s LinkedIn profile.

Lara Greening

Student Assistant Researcher

Lara Greening graduated with an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Behavioural Science from the University of Cambridge.

Her dissertation focused on the predictors of within-party political polarization in South Africa.

Her research experience involves addictive buying and rational explanations of political polarization using Bayesian modelling. Her current research interest is political consumerism and its political or social correlates.
Lara is co-supervised by Professor Lucia Reisch, Director of the El-Erian Institute, and Dr Lee de-Witt, Director of the Political Psychology Laboratory. Her MPhil is funded by the ESRC.

David Halpern CBE

President and Founding Director, Behavioural Insights Team

Mary MacLennan

Senior Advisor to the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General

Felix Creutzig

Head of the working group Land Use, Infrastructures and Transport and Chair of Sustainability Economics at Technische Universität Berlin

Dame Theresa Marteau

Fellow, Cambridge Judge Business School

Director, Behaviour and Health Research Unit, Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge

Cass R Sunstein

Fellow, Cambridge Judge Business School

Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard Law School

Michael Spence

Dean's Distinguished Fellow, Cambridge Judge Business School

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Professor Michael Spence is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and Philip H Knight Professor and Dean, Emeritus, at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is the chairman of an independent Commission on Growth and Development, created in 2006 and focused on growth and poverty reduction in developing countries.

In 2001, he was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his contributions to the analysis of markets with asymmetric information. He received the John Bates Clark Medal of the American Economic Association awarded to economists under 40.

Lisa Eckmann

Visiting Scholar, El-Erian Institute of Behavioural Economics and Policy

PhD (Goethe University)

Lisa Eckmann is a postdoctoral research associate at the Chair of Market and Consumer Psychology, Goethe University Frankfurt. She received her PhD from Goethe University Frankfurt in May 2022. Prior to her doctoral studies, she studied economics and business with a focus on marketing and management at Goethe University Frankfurt as well as consumer behavior and behavioral economics at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Lisa Eckmann’s research addresses questions at the intersection of marketing and psychology. Her work focuses on consumer psychology and behaviour, especially the psychological processes that influence consumer judgments and preferences. In the domain of nonconsumption, she is particularly interested in examining the conditions under which individuals benefit from reducing their consumption.

Sarah Forberger

Visiting Scholar, El-Erian Institute of Behavioural Economics and Policy

PhD, Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology – BIPS, Bremen, Germany

Sarah is a Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Health Science, University of York, UK. Her research critically evaluates individual and population-level interventions targeting healthy lifestyles, specifically focusing on physical activity and nutrition.

By employing mixed-methods approaches, she examine their implementation and effects. Through this method, she aims to understand the intricate dynamics inherent in implementing these interventions and identify key leverage points to promote the adoption of healthy habits. The work highlights pivotal opportunities and obstacles in fostering an environment supportive of healthy living. By providing evidence-based insights, her research contributes to informing future policy decisions and interventions aimed at promoting public health.

Alice Pizzo

Visiting Scholar, El-Erian Institute of Behavioural Economics and Policy

PhD (Copenhagen Business School)

Alice Pizzo is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Copenhagen Business School. Alice holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Copenhagen and a MSc in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics from the same institution. She is an applied economist by training and works in the field of applied microeconomics at the intersection of experimental, behavioral, and environmental economics.
Her academic production relates to decision making in the context of climate change, environmental and natural resource economics, public policy, health economics. Alice’s research is driven by quantitative methods, field, lab and online experiments. Her teaching portfolio includes Statistics (undergraduate level), Behavioral Economics (graduate level), and Behavioural & Experimental Economics (graduate level).
She is currently leading multiple diverse experimental interventions focused on sustainable consumption in the food realm.

Leonie Decrinis

Former Visiting PhD student, El-Erian Institute of Behavioural Economics and Policy

Leonie Decrinis is a PhD candidate at Copenhagen Business School, studying the application of behavioural insights and nudging to improve decision-making in organisations for more responsible and sustainable ways of doing business. Leonie completed a research stay at the El-Erian Institute (EEI) between January and April 2023.

During her stay, Leonie deepened and expanded her ongoing collaboration with members of the EEI for the publication of 2 joint papers. One of the papers is a systematic evidence map, co-authored by Lucia Reisch, that compiles existing nudging intervention studies conducted in the workplace with relevance to corporate sustainability. It synthesises information on target persons, barriers to behaviour change, nudging types and mechanisms, and behavioural outcomes across ESG domains into a coherent framework. The paper will be published as a book chapter in the Edward Elgar Research Handbook on Nudges and Society edited by Cass Sunstein and Lucia Reisch. The second paper presents and evaluates the findings from a field study at the German car manufacturer Porsche that tested the effects of different nudges in form of message frames on the electric vehicle adoption of Porsche employees. It provides insights into nudging organisational members towards environmentally favourable choices, who may not yet share strong pro-environmental beliefs. The paper is co-authored by Wolfgang Freibichler, Micha Kaiser, Cass Sunstein and Lucia Reisch. It is currently under review at Business Strategy and the Environment.

Besides the valuable collaboration on the above papers, the research stay provided Leonie with a unique opportunity to engage with the research community at the EEI and relevant subject groups at Cambridge Judge Business School. She participated in research seminars and paper development workshops, reading and discussion groups and formed new contacts with inspiring researchers in her field. Leonie also had the opportunity to present her work in a guest lecture and gain valuable teaching experience. Through all the described experiences, the stay has truly enriched Leonie’s PhD experience.

Arjun Kamdar

Former Research intern, El-Erian Institute of Behavioural Economics and Policy

Arjun Kamdar is a wildlife scientist combining behavioural insights with ecology to design and implement conservation projects. His work focusses on enabling human-elephant coexistence in India. Arjun completed a research internship at the El-Erian Institute (EEI) between February and March 2023.

At EEI, Arjun developed and expanded on interdisciplinary research and intervention plans for reducing human-wildlife conflicts. He worked with Lucia Reisch and Harini Nagendra to develop NOSTRIL, a framework for applying behavioural insights to drive environmental impacts. As part of this, they partnered with tea production companies in India to develop a proposal to design their environmental and social outreach material to be more effective. Malte Dewies and Arjun conducted a brainstorming session with conservationists and behavioural scientists at Cambridge to design participatory nudges for human-elephant co-existence. Through interactions with the EEI team, the Cambridge University Behavioural Insights Team, scientists from the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, and local partners, Arjun developed an intervention plan for securing collective action for human-elephant conflict interventions and their sustainability over time. Furthermore, this visit enabled Arjun to work with Lucia Reisch to develop ideas and obtain valuable feedback on research questions that explore the factors nudging conservation action in diverse contexts.

In addition, Arjun was able to engage with research events across several disciplines held at the University of Cambridge. He took part in research seminars in the management, psychology and economics departments, attended talks on anthropology and ecology, and forged new connections with interdisciplinary scientists, expanding his network and gaining fresh perspectives. This visit supported by the Miriam Rothschild Travel Bursary and was a very productive and fulfilling experience for Arjun.

Read Arjun’s summary report (PDF)

Faisal Naru

Former Fellow, Cambridge Judge Business School

Executive Director, Policy Innovation Centre

Sonja Grelle

Visiting Scholar, El-Erian Institute of Behavioural Economics and Policy

PhD (Ruhr-University Bochum)

Sonja Grelle is a PhD student in the Department of Social Psychology at Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany. Prior to her doctoral studies, she studied psychology and neuroscience at the Maastricht University in the Netherlands, as well as clinical psychology and work and organizational psychology at the University of Bielefeld in Germany.

Sonja Grelle’s main research goal is to provide a clearer picture of when and why people accept and ultimately comply with public policies. She developed an integrative, review-based framework on public policy acceptance (IPAC framework) that offers guidance for researchers and practitioners. The framework depicts the relevant psychological determinants (e.g., problem awareness, trust, control attribution, value fit, perceived costs, fairness) and their interactions in public policy acceptance across policy domains. It introduces the desire for governmental support as a motivational foundation in public policy acceptance.

At the EEI, she delves into the role of perceived policy fairness in relation to policy acceptance within the context of climate and food consumption.

Chung-Ting (Francisco) Wang

PhD candidate in the Marketing subject group at Cambridge Judge Business School, fully funded by the El-Erian Institute of Behavioural Economics and Policy

Francisco’s research interests lie in judgment and decision-making, pricing, and prosocial behavior. For instance, one of his ongoing projects explores the influence of individuals’ sense of self-identity on their responses to various pricing strategies employed by firms. In other work, he investigates choice architecture in charity fundraising contexts.

Before starting his PhD, Francisco earned an MPhil in Strategy, Marketing and Operations from Cambridge Judge Business School and a BA in International Business from Rollins College.

Lisa-Maria Tanase

PhD researcher under the joint supervision of EEI Academic Director Professor Lucia Reisch, and Professor Lee De-Wit, head of the Political Psychology Lab; fully funded by the El-Erian Institute of Behavioural Economics and Policy

Lisa-Maria is a member of the Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy network as part of the Policy Fellowships Programme, which is dedicated to helping senior policymakers in harnessing the effective use of evidence and expertise to inform government decision-making.

Through her doctoral research, Lisa-Maria aims to understand how political psychology and behavioural economics can inform the development of interventions helping senior political elites to take decisive climate action.

Prior to undertaking her PhD, she joined the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication where her research focused on the communication of evidence and uncertainty in a variety of domains from policy interventions to healthcare and the legal sector. Her study as first author showed the influence of political elites on COVID-19 risk perception and hoax beliefs in the US, and is published in the Royal Society Open Science Journal.

She was previously research assistant at the London School of Economics Behavioural Research Lab, where she worked on interventions to recalibrate risk perception and reduce biases. As a behavioural consultant at Innovia Tech, she worked to develop interventions improving safety, patients’ risk perception and adherence behaviour to medication.

Lisa-Maria completed an MSc Cognitive and Decision Science and a BSc in Arts and Sciences at UCL. She explored decision-making processes at complementary cognitive, behavioural, and political scales with an interdisciplinary combination of data analysis, experimental methods, and computer programming.

Her research interests also include social and political decision-making, social conflicts and cooperation, voting behaviour, and immunising citizens against misinformation.

PhD project overview

“Parliament is not an ordinary organisation, because on a day-to-day level it has the power to profoundly affect the lives of millions of people, and so behaviour within it may be disproportionately important.”
Kwiatkowski, R. (2001) Politicians and power.” In: The psychology of politicians [Internet]. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.39–58

“My PhD research aims to examine the factors that influence Members of Parliament in taking decisive climate action.

“In the context of climate change, the beliefs and decisions of Members of Parliament have the potential to tip the scales among collective actors. The possible significant impact of Members of Parliament lies in their ability to shape emission reduction through the implementation of green policies, legislative changes, agenda-setting, and the influential effect of political elite cues on the public.

“I argue that coupling individual behavioural change with proactive top-down actions within government leadership is crucial to scale up and enhance the effectiveness of behavioural interventions. The existing structural research looking at high-level political and economic responses, often invokes notions of impersonal omnipotent systems, global agreements, and abstract international power relations, leaving out of the picture the individual political leaders responsible for these wider-scale dynamics.

“Employing a metaphorical lens glimpsing through the walls of structural-level institutions to focus on the politician behind policy decisions, could offer a promising avenue for sustainability behavioural research. Moreover, this lens could provide a more nuanced perspective transcending the confines of a dualistic I-frame versus S-frame approach, fostering a more comprehensive understanding of the intricate interplay between individual agency and structural influences. My research therefore addresses these aforementioned gaps in the literature by empirically examining the factors that influence senior political elites in taking decisive climate action, using a combination of qualitative and quantitative data.

“The first part of my thesis is focused on developing a conceptual model of the relationship between MPs’ second-order beliefs and climate action, and understanding key barriers and facilitators to senior decision-makers’ preparedness to take climate action.

“Specifically, I am conducting a series of semi-structured interviews with former Members of Parliament to examine the types of evidence, including opinion polls, that significantly influence policy choices within parliament, as well as Members of Parliament’s perceptions of climate policies.

“The subsequent phase of my doctoral research involves conducting several online experiments with a sample of Members of Parliament across Conservative, Liberal Democrats, and Labour parties in the UK, aiming to test the effectiveness of various interventions on climate policy support. A multitude of factors are posited to be constraining politicians from taking stronger and more rapid climate action, many of which appear particularly difficult to address (eg distributed agency across rigid bureaucratic layers, competing policy priorities in the context of the cost-of-living crisis). While many of these barriers to climate action are very difficult to alter, my research focuses on targeting specific barriers over which leverage is promising, informed by behavioural insights.”

A bit more about me

My favourite place in Cambridge

“My favourite place in Cambridge is the Botanic Garden, especially getting lost in the peaceful glasshouse.”

My favourite spot for lunch breaks

“My favourite spot for lunch breaks is The Tiffin Truck near Downing College, which offers the perfect warming food for these cold English days.”

My book recommendation

“My book recommendation is ‘Empire of the Ants’ by Bernard Werber, a wonderful combination of science fiction, and philosophical reflection, exploring ideas of ecology, advanced technology, and the intricate connections between all living organisms. This book is particularly relevant to the current climate crisis we are facing.”

Noah Peters

PhD Researcher, Queens' College

Noah’s research lies at the intersection of sociology and behavioural economics. Noah investigates the interplay between social mobility – a core theme in sociology – and personality traits increasingly studied in economics. Do individuals strategically adopt patience and balanced risk-taking to climb the economic ladder? How does the experience of socioeconomic success shape personality traits? These questions revolve around and reassess the influential notion that positive life outcomes depend on the ‘right’ character. By adopting a sociological perspective, Noah critically engages with popular narratives of meritocracy, that is, the idea that hard work and talent enable people to get ahead in life. Noah’s research examines how meritocracy is used to legitimate power imbalances and how individuals come to accept their position in the socioeconomic pecking order.

Interdisciplinary in nature, Noah’s research frequently turns to art, literary fiction and poetry for motivation and utilises both quantitative and qualitative methods. Noah is also interested in broader aspects of interdisciplinarity and the history of economic and social thought.

His research interests include behavioural economics; behavioural public policy; cultural sociology; economic sociology; inequality; social mobility; survey methodology.

PhD project overview

“My research scrutinises ideas behind the persistence of social and economic disadvantage. After the shock of the first world war, the unequal distribution of income and wealth between different groups of society began to decrease in western countries. However, since the late 1970s, income and wealth disparities have risen again, reaching levels last seen in the early 20th century. Despite high inequality across the globe, governments and international organisations extol the promise of social mobility: each generation is meant to enjoy higher incomes and better standards of living than previous cohorts. Yet the cost-of-living crisis, ballooning rents in urban areas, and exploding mortgage rates illustrate that many people struggle to experience economic improvement. In the meantime, top earners and affluent individuals continue to accumulate growing shares of countries’ total income and wealth. Amid persistently high disparities between and within nations, equal opportunities for everyone remain elusive. Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds face a cycle of reproduction: the misfortunes of one generation haunt the next. Hard work and talent are not enough to overcome unfavourable starting positions.

“Yet hard work and talent have long been hailed as stepping stones to success. The promise of the American dream maintains that people can tackle structural barriers if they harness effort and natural ability. This tale can legitimise inequality: Because people are expected to achieve their goals by leveraging individual capacities, any remaining inequalities result from a lack of motivation. Individuals’ ambitions and character traits – rather than systemic preconditions – determine future outcomes, or so the story goes.

“This emphasis on innate faculties corresponds with the rise of behavioural science, notably psychology. Since the 1970s, economists and psychologists have used laboratory experiments to show that people’s cognitive capabilities are limited. Risky situations and insufficient information can lead individuals to make erroneous judgements and decisions. This insight inspired scholars to question the assumption that humans process information like computers. Acknowledging the fallibility of people’s brains, economists, regulatory experts, and psychologists began to design small interventions, or ‘nudges’, to help people make better choices. By raising people’s attention, reminding them of downstream consequences, or utilising individuals’ tendency to stick with the default, nudges use insights from psychology to circumvent the boundaries of cognitive reasoning.

“The influence of psychology in understanding and shaping people’s life outcomes has also inspired social policy. Economists have trialled interventions to teach people how to practice patience and soft skills as early as in pre-school. Other researchers have demonstrated that connections to more advantaged peers can improve young people’s achievements in later life. These findings underscore that success in the market society requires citizens to master coveted traits such as patience, risk-taking, and social skills.

“My doctoral research analyses the role of behavioural science in promoting this narrative. The first part of my thesis argues that psychological knowledge provides an insufficient lens for understanding the persistence of economic inequality. I illustrate that people’s tendency to live in the moment assumes different moral meanings, depending on the social class we look at.

“My thesis’ second part examines how the tale of self-made achievement justifies power imbalances and how individuals come to accept their station in the economic pecking order. Existing research maintains that segregation across economic and racial lines hinders people from grasping the sheer extent of inequality. To rally against disparities, communities need to realise their own advantage, or disadvantage. I develop an alternative stance, arguing that increased visibility of wealth leads less fortunate people to accept privilege as the just status quo. I put competing theories to the test by using international survey data and measures of globalisation.

“Reflecting upon these findings, the final part of my thesis discusses the limits of behavioural science in redressing economic inequalities. I also address the potentials and pitfalls of incorporating knowledge from disparate academic fields. This assessment critically engages with my own approach, which fuses insights from behavioural science, sociology as well as art history and literary fiction.”

A bit more about me

My favourite place in Cambridge

“As an inequality researcher, I am cynically enthralled by London, so my favourite place in Cambridge must be the city’s train station, a gateway to Britain’s capital. Alas, I get down to London less often than I would like to and have tried to come to terms with Cambridge’s university bubble. My favourite place here is the Fitzwilliam Museum.”

My favourite spot for lunch breaks

“Queens’ College because the food is very affordable.”

My book recommendation

“I have recently finished W G Sebald’s ‘Austerlitz’. Fusing travelogue, autobiographical notes and the life story of a child refugee who escaped to Britain on the Kindertransport, the book unearths the unassailable depths of human trauma. Unfortunately, this subject will never lose its relevance.”

Emmanuel Robert

PhD candidate in Politics and International Studies, fully funded by the El-Erian Institute of Behavioural Economics and Policy

Emmanuel’s research looks at the rise of behavioural science in modern politics (eg the nudge) and seeks to unravel its ambition in terms of a politics of the unconscious. More largely, it claims that the discovery of the unconscious, at the outset of the 19th century, has made possible a new rationality of government: that of psychopolitics. This new form of politics is to be found in the emergence of neo-liberalism around Walter Lippmann and Edward Bernays and later in more advanced forms, of which behavioural science is one successful expression.

PhD project overview

“My PhD research takes the idea of irrationality seriously and makes the claim that irrational passions are at the foundation of the thinking on and the doing of politics. I argue that the problem of politics, namely the question of why it is that there is politics, boils down to a problem of human emotions and passions. The argument rests on psychological realism. Politics is necessary because of the excess and abuse of the mind. The argument builds on classical works of political theory, notably Hobbes, Rousseau, and others who in their distinct understandings of human nature all agree on the basic premise that individuals are mostly irrational, swayed by ardent affects, and that if passions are left untouched and untamed violence soon inflamed society. There is thus a need for politics to govern passions. And this need is justified by the pervasiveness of passions. Indeed, I contend further that passions are an unavoidable outgrowth of civilisation, which through the material abundance and comfort it produces frees people from the shackles of necessity and pure survival. Yet liberation from necessity is not a guarantee of peace — because, as desires and passions become the main drivers of human action, they bring with them a menace for society, one that seems at first benign and innocent. This menace is the effect of pride or egoism, the love of oneself above all else, which makes those afflicted by it crave absolute authority regardless of the exploitation and destruction it might imply for those who stand in the way of power. Passion has at this point turned into madness. This is when and why politics is deemed necessary. Politics and its institutions are invented to protect society from the unruliness, if not destructiveness of unchecked passions. Politics is therefore about psychopolitics. Its mission is to govern the mind. Its goal is to regulate the mental affliction which civilisation provokes. Hence, politics is not primarily about morality, nor is it primarily about economics. It is foremost about psychology. There is a reason for politics and this reason is justified by the unreason that lies within us.

“If psychopolitics is needed, then the next question should be: how does psychopolitics work? It is to that second question that the rest of my research is devoted. Various maxims of politics have been proposed to ensure that politics can secure obedience and guarantee the peace of the community. Distinct reasons of state have been promoted, which all take the problem of politics to be about passions and the solution to also be within passions. As the motto goes, ‘fire can only be fought with fire’. In short, two intellectual traditions have opposed each other on what type of passions politics should embody to prevent the violence of pride. The first considers fear and terror to be the supreme principle of government; this is the more Hobbesian tradition. The second holds love and compassion to be that supreme maxim; this is the more Rousseauist tradition. One seeks to crush and deter. The other wants to attract and seduce. Working through the modern lessons of psychology, I seek to show the psychological limits of any of those two approaches, demonstrating why pure fear leads to submission but quickly enough to resentment and the desire for rebellion, and why passive love leads to conformism but quickly enough to boredom and the desire for change. Both run the risk of making politics the cause and not the response to the problem of passions. They are both insufficient and short-term formulas to create peace. This is where I engage more normatively with the dissertation as I suggest that psychopolitics should be about governing human passions in an ambivalent format, namely through a harmonious combination of both discipline and love in order to upset some desires but also liberate and transform others into a productive spirit that is beneficial for the common good. This exercise is difficult and asks for citizens to amass experience with politics within the framework of democracy. All in all, this dissertation hopes to have contributed to explaining why it is that politics relates so innately to passions, and how it is that passions can be governed by politics. In doing so, it hopes to have made the case that psychology is at the heart of the thinking of politics, and that it has been so from the very start of the discipline. The idea of psychopolitics, that is the pairing of politics and psychology, is indeed more ancient than what we may conventionally think.”

A bit more about me

“Not yet (if ever) a political thinker, I would like to think of myself as a political rethinker eager to shake off some of the rigidity and frigidity which often conditions the course of disciplinary thinking. This intellectual rethinking I hope to do across my dissertation by bringing depth-psychology, notably concepts and concerns from psychoanalysis in dialogue with politics and political theory.

“I am a keen reader and writer of poetry, and have strong affiliations with the Foodbank and other active societies.

“I also speak French, German, and mumble some street-level rudiments of Spanish and Arabic (Egyptian).

My favourite place in Cambridge

“Mill Road, especially its first stretch prior to the railway bridge. The street is always alive and full of small convenience stores open from early morning to very late in the evening. They have the best vegetables in town, and especially the most colourful spices. There is also a café there, called the Mediterranean Coffee Spot, run by a wonderful Greek family. On a cold Saturday morning, there is nothing more uplifting than to start the day with a cappuccino, a pistachio baklava, and a warm hellenic welcome.”

My favourite place in Cambridge

“I like to eat something light, like a salad in the back-garden of Emmanuel College, known here as the paddock. Members of the College are lucky to have a pond, towering trees all around, and superb flowerbeds curated by a team of talented gardeners. Right at the heart of the city, one feels then immediately transported into the serenity of the English countryside. The sporadic sight of squirrels playing in the far distance adds life and amusement to the picturesque scene.”

My book recommendation

“I have a particular fondness for classics, however dusty their covers. In that spirit, I recommend ‘Civilisation and Its Discontents’ by Sigmund Freud. One should certainly overlook the sexual obstination of its author and change sexual urges to simply desires and wishes. But, after this small reading edit, a thought-provoking idea unfolds, namely that society produces more wishes than that which it can satisfy and deliver, especially if society wants to preserve some level of order. Modern individuals are then left with a residual malaise, a form of discontent, which lingers in the back of their mind until it eventually bursts in a rather disruptive fashion. It is one of the first and best plea for taking the psyche seriously not simply at the individual level but also at the collective level. And as everyone knows here at the El-Erian Institute, the mind is indeed the first and most important territory of the common good.”

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