Meet the speaker – Professor Paul Dolan

Professor Paul Dolan is giving a keynote talk and Q&A session at the IFW Conference taking place at the Bristol Hotel on 23rd May 2023.

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Paul Dolan is Professor of Behavioural Science at the LSE. His main research interests are human behaviour and happiness, and the relationships between them, particularly as they apply to policy. He is author of the bestselling books Happiness by Design and Happy Ever After. He is also host of the Duck / Rabbit podcastabout the polarisation problem in our society and is the founder of the Lifetime Wellbeing Cooperative™. Paul’s research has been used widely by governments for development of public policy.

Paul will examine the topic ‘Happiness by Design’ at the IFW Conference.

Your key learning points will be:

  • Understand the latest research on behavioural science
  • Evidence what happiness actually is
  • Learn the importance of acts, not talk

We’re thrilled you’re speaking at the IFW Conference. What can delegates expect from your keynote talk ‘Happiness by Design’?

The quickest road to disappointment is to have high expectations, so I’d encourage delegates to expect less of my keynote. That being said, they can expect an accessible talk that’ll cover why money doesn’t always make us happy, the narratives society tells us about what should make us happy, and why they rarely match real life.

What drew you to specialise in the relationship between human behaviour and happiness?

I started as a health economist, and the measurement of the hard to value stuff, like physical and mental illness, was key to that. It naturally led me into focussing on how what we do affects how we feel, and vice versa.

How does your expertise in this area influence your passions, both in and out of work?

Happiness is located in the flow of pleasure and purpose over time. I enjoy my research as it gives me both; and outside of work, I spend time doing things that make me happy. Time is our scarcest resource, so we should use it to generate as much as happiness as possible for ourselves and those around us.

What’s your happiest memory?

Easy. West Ham 1 Arsenal 0, FA Cup Final, 10 May 1980, my 12th birthday.

What’s your understanding of financial wellbeing and why it matters?

We are what we pay attention to. Money can be very attention-seeking if we’re struggling to make ends meet – or if we’re poring over our portfolio. Ideally, our finances should be like a football referee – if a referee has had a good game, nobody noticed they were there.

Who or what is your favourite wellbeing guru, podcast or book?

Danny Kahneman is a hero of mine. He’s not only the smartest person I’ve worked with but also a lovely man with an incredible capacity to tell a good story.

What are you doing to advance your own financial wellbeing?

Ha, well as I’m 55 in a few weeks, I’m thinking about my pension for the first time. If someone could tell me when I’m going to die, I can decide when to start drawing it down.

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