LAW42170 Behavioural Laws

Academic Year 2023/2024

Given that law aims to influence human behaviour, it very much needs to understand why people behave as they do, and how to make them behave differently. Yet law has not done nearly enough to understand human behaviour: many of the constructs it uses are too limited, too crude, or otherwise are not up to the task. This course will cover concepts in various disciplines in the social sciences, including psychology, economics, and sociology, that are relevant to law and policy-making. The theories and concepts are sometimes referred to under the general name of “Behavioural Law and Economics.”

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

When you finish this course you will
- Understand the principal law and policy-relevant principal theories and concepts that present-day social sciences are developing .
- Be able to use those theories and concepts to make arguments about important legal and policy issues, including in areas such as criminal law, welfare policy, and climate concerns.

Indicative Module Content:

Week 1, January 25: Introduction to Behavioral Law and Economics

Week 2, February 1: Behavioral Law and Economics: Some basic concepts

Week 3, February 8: Behavioral Law and Economics: Some major concepts and examples

Week 4, February 15: Behavioral Law and Economics: Worldviews--Risk vs. Uncertainty; Survival of the Fittest vs. Good Enough

Weeks 5 and 6, February 22 and March 1: Behavioral Law and Economics: Personal Characteristics and Experiences; Time Horizons; Language

For the next 3 weeks (March 8, 15 and 22):
US students have 2 sessions (March 15 and March 22, during the Irish students’ break)
Irish students have 1 session (March 8, during the US students’ break)
The schedule for the 3 weeks will be announced, but one session, the “extra” class for US students, that Irish students are welcome to attend, is this:

Case Studies: Bankers generally, and Wells Fargo in particular (optional for Irish students, but Irish students are welcome to come)
Carbone, Board Diversity: People or Pathways?
Hill & Painter, Better Banks, Better Bankers (Chapter 3)

Note that because the US will be on Daylight Savings Time and Ireland will not, the Irish time for this class will be at 1-3pm, not 2-4pm

Weeks 8-10, March 29, April 5, and April 12
These are the “application” classes. There will be several topics per class (depending on the nature of the topic, and on enrollment). I will assign a few readings that introduce the issue and the law and econ/behavioral law and econ perspectives; students’ assignments will include coming up with their own lists of readings. The broad topics will include some or all of the following; I will identify specific issues within these topics.

• Dealing with scarcity, for example:
o Of blood/organs
o During emergency periods
• Paternalism
o As rationale for regulation
 (example: gambling? Heart Attack Grill?)
o Appraising approaches to paternalistic ends
• Other-regarding (altruistic) and future-regarding behavior
o By organizations
o By individuals
• Risk-taking
o Societal interest in level and type of risk
o Appraising approaches to encourage responsible risk-taking and discourage irresponsible risk-taking
• What should we do about diversity in business leadership and employee ranks and why?
• Is there an entitlement to merit goods?
o If so, what goods count as merit goods?
 How best to provide them?
• What public services should be provided, and how?

Last class: CONCLUSION/recap

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Lectures

24

Autonomous Student Learning

178

Total

202

Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
I have two goals for the students. One is that they learn the relevant concepts. The other is that they understand how the concepts can, do, and could, inform law and policy. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.


Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
 
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Assignment: Written assignments in assigned topics with aggregate number of words per student being 5000, not including reading lists. Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No

65

No
Continuous Assessment: Participation in discussion of assigned topics, including primary leading role in discussion of 1 topic and contributory role in discussion of 2 other topics, plus overall contrib to class discussion Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No

35

No

Carry forward of passed components
No
 
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Written feedback on all assignments will be provided to students.

Readings:
Readings for the first six classes are set forth below. The readings with links will be provided to students registered to the module via Google Drive folder for the class, to which students will be invited at the start of term.
Readings for subsequent “application” classes will be provided early in the semester.

Week 1, January 25: Introduction to Behavioral Law and Economics
Gary Becker, The Economic Approach to Human Behavior (excerpts from Introduction)
Jolls, Sunstein and Thaler, A Behavioral Approach to Law and Economics (pages 1473-1489)
Rabin, A Perspective on Psychology and Economics (pages 680-83)
SKIM: Cognitive Biases

Week 2, February 1: Behavioral Law and Economics: Some basic concepts
Thaler, The Psychology and Economics Conference Handbook: Comments on Simon et. al
Hill, Beyond Mistakes (pages 573-89)
McCaffery & Slemrod, Behavioral Public Finance (pages 7-26)

Week 3, February 8: Behavioral Law and Economics: Some major concepts and examples
Loewenstein, Tom Sawyer and the Construction of Value
Rustichini, A Fine is a Price
Fryer & Jackson, A Categorical Model of Cognition and Biased Decision Making (pages 1-8; 26-31)

Week 4, February 15: Behavioral Law and Economics: Worldviews--Risk vs. Uncertainty; Survival of the Fittest vs. Good Enough
Kay & King, Radical Uncertainty: Decision-Making Beyond the Numbers, (pages 3-17 and 402-417; also 435-444 (optional))
Milo, Good Enough: The Tolerance for Mediocrity in Nature and Society, (pages 1-6, 50-59, 62-72 and 231-35)

Weeks 5 and 6, February 22 and March 1: Behavioral Law and Economics: Personal Characteristics and Experiences; Time Horizons; Language
Malmendier, Memory of Past Experiences and Economic Decisions (pages 3-19; 56)
Malmendier, Exposure, Experience and Expertise: Why Personal Histories Matter in Economics (introduction and conclusion)
Yu &Zhang, The Impact of Social Identity Conflict on Planning Horizons (pages 1-3; 13-15)
K. Chen, The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Evidence from Savings Rates, Health Behaviors, and Retirement Assets (pages 1-7; 30-32)
Blasi, Henrich, Adamou, Kemmerer, & Majid, Over-reliance on English hinders cognitive science, (skim the whole article, focusing particularly on the introductory text and the chart on page 1156)


Further readings will be assigned in due course

Readings:
Readings for the first six classes are set forth below. The readings with links will be provided to students registered to the module via Google Drive folder for the class, to which students will be invited at the start of term.
Readings for subsequent “application” classes will be provided early in the semester.

Week 1, January 25: Introduction to Behavioral Law and Economics
Gary Becker, The Economic Approach to Human Behavior (excerpts from Introduction)
Jolls, Sunstein and Thaler, A Behavioral Approach to Law and Economics (pages 1473-1489)
Rabin, A Perspective on Psychology and Economics (pages 680-83)
SKIM: Cognitive Biases

Week 2, February 1: Behavioral Law and Economics: Some basic concepts
Thaler, The Psychology and Economics Conference Handbook: Comments on Simon et. al
Hill, Beyond Mistakes (pages 573-89)
McCaffery & Slemrod, Behavioral Public Finance (pages 7-26)

Week 3, February 8: Behavioral Law and Economics: Some major concepts and examples
Loewenstein, Tom Sawyer and the Construction of Value
Rustichini, A Fine is a Price
Fryer & Jackson, A Categorical Model of Cognition and Biased Decision Making (pages 1-8; 26-31)

Week 4, February 15: Behavioral Law and Economics: Worldviews--Risk vs. Uncertainty; Survival of the Fittest vs. Good Enough
Kay & King, Radical Uncertainty: Decision-Making Beyond the Numbers, (pages 3-17 and 402-417; also 435-444 (optional))
Milo, Good Enough: The Tolerance for Mediocrity in Nature and Society, (pages 1-6, 50-59, 62-72 and 231-35)

Weeks 5 and 6, February 22 and March 1: Behavioral Law and Economics: Personal Characteristics and Experiences; Time Horizons; Language
Malmendier, Memory of Past Experiences and Economic Decisions (pages 3-19; 56)
Malmendier, Exposure, Experience and Expertise: Why Personal Histories Matter in Economics (introduction and conclusion)
Yu &Zhang, The Impact of Social Identity Conflict on Planning Horizons (pages 1-3; 13-15)
K. Chen, The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Evidence from Savings Rates, Health Behaviors, and Retirement Assets (pages 1-7; 30-32)
Blasi, Henrich, Adamou, Kemmerer, & Majid, Over-reliance on English hinders cognitive science, (skim the whole article, focusing particularly on the introductory text and the chart on page 1156)

For the next 3 weeks the schedule and readings will be provided in class in due course with one option class on
Case Studies: Bankers generally, and Wells Fargo in particular (optional for Irish students, but Irish students are welcome to come)
Carbone, Board Diversity: People or Pathways?
Hill & Painter, Better Banks, Better Bankers (Chapter 3)


Weeks 8-10, March 29, April 5, and April 12
These are the “application” classes. There will be several topics per class (depending on the nature of the topic, and on enrollment). I will assign a few readings that introduce the issue and the law and econ/behavioral law and econ perspectives; students’ assignments will include coming up with their own lists of readings. The broad topics will include some or all of the following; I will identify specific issues within these topics.

• Dealing with scarcity, for example:
o Of blood/organs
o During emergency periods
• Paternalism
o As rationale for regulation
 (example: gambling? Heart Attack Grill?)
o Appraising approaches to paternalistic ends
• Other-regarding (altruistic) and future-regarding behavior
o By organizations
o By individuals
• Risk-taking
o Societal interest in level and type of risk
o Appraising approaches to encourage responsible risk-taking and discourage irresponsible risk-taking
• What should we do about diversity in business leadership and employee ranks and why?
• Is there an entitlement to merit goods?
o If so, what goods count as merit goods?
 How best to provide them?
• What public services should be provided, and how?

Last class: CONCLUSION/recap, no reading.