Meet the supervisors

Yesterday was the first Wednesday of term and so we held our traditional ‘meet the supervisors’ meeting.   We have two new supervisors for Queens’ this term.   The first of which is Dr David Modic who will be supervising the Economics, Law and Ethics course for the second year students.

Here’s a bit of text about David’s background:

David Modic holds a PhD in economic psychology from Exeter University. Hmm… what is economic psychology, I hear you ask. Well, have you ever wondered about gift giving and why sometimes people are angry when they are given a specific kind of gift (for example a toothbrush or a bar of soap. If it is a bar of soap and they are in prison that carries with it a whole other set of heavy luggage…). Have you wondered how couples share their finances? Have you ever wondered what happens to a country when they change their currency? And why people are depressed when they are unemployed for some time? This are broadly the things economic psychologists research. Simply put – what happens with people when they are put under some kind of economic pressure.

David is primarily interested in Internet scams and why people fall for them, he currently works at the Computer Lab in the security group. David has been researching social aspects of the Internet (i.e. cybercrime, virtual deviance, intrusions into virtual body etc) for the past fifteen years. There are things he finds bizzare, or simply weird, out there. There is a virtual community where people’s status is connected to the amount of virtual furniture they own, so unsurprisingly, there are some pundits who sell their virtual bodies for (virtual) sex in order to get virtual sofas. And that is not all, because that specific community caters to early teens, they filter out swear words. Not a problem for the proponents of the oldest profession in the world and their customers. They just invent a new language to have text based sex. How insane is that? Virtual language to sell your virtual body to get a virtual chair that inflates your virtual status. Stuff like that. Since this is not a research grant pitch, there is no need to get into the huge amount of money that is being lost to cybercrime and so on, but bear in mind that there are real people out there, who date imaginary women who in turn take them for everything they’ve got, including their pride, hopes and dreams. And surely that is worth stopping?

Lately, David’s focus has been the psychology of fraud. Why people fall for it, what makes a good scam, what to be vary of when buying that shiny new iPhone from eBay. It is too simplistic to simply say that people are morons and serves them right to fall for scams. If that was, strictly speaking, true, then only morons would fall for scams. But intelligent people get conned. University professors get conned, and this nation’s leading scientists get conned. And so on and so forth. So it is not exactly true that intelligence is the primary thing here. It is more likely that from time to time, perfectly reasonable people act like fools. And something has to cause this irrational behaviour. Well, David is looking into these mechanisms. More on: and