Séverine Toussaert receives ESRC New Investigator Grant



Séverine Tousserat has been awarded an ESRC New Investigator Grant to undertake research which aims to understand the motivational effect of perceived challenges.

The aim of this research is to understand whether a person is more motivated or becomes discouraged when faced with a challenge to her ability to succeed at a particular task.

Not much is known about the motivational power of challenges to a person’s ego and how those challenges could help to design interventions to change people’s behaviour. Up until recently, these interventions focused almost entirely on the use of monetary incentives, with limited long-term effects. The proposed research aims to fill this gap by studying in different contexts how individuals react to information that may threaten or boost their sense of ego.

Understanding the motivational effect of perceived challenges is important for the design of interventions that aim to change a person’s behaviour. These interventions include making a person lose weight, exercise more, save for retirement, recycle their waste, return their taxes on time.

The insights generated by this research could prove extremely valuable to researchers in public health and medicine who seek to find new ways of making individuals form good habits like eating more healthily or break bad habits like smoking.