Freakonomics for the law - the revolutionary behavioral science insights into how the law fails to reduce misbehavior.

Product Code: 5904
ISBN: 9780807049082
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Beacon Press
Pages: 312
Published Date: 10/26/2021
Availability:In stock
Price: $27.95

Why do some laws radically change behavior whereas others are consistently ignored and routinely broken? Why do we keep relying on harsh punishment against crime even though it continues to fail?

Professors Benjamin van Rooij and Adam Fine present the first accessible analysis of behavioral jurisprudence, which will fundamentally alter how we understand the connection between law and human behavior. Drawing upon decades of research, the authors reveal the behavioral code: the root causes and hidden forces that drive human behavior and our responses to society’s laws.

The Behavioral Code offers a necessary and different approach to battling crime and injustice that is based in understanding the science of human misconduct - rather than relying on punishment to shape behavior. The book will show how this code affects all of us using illustrative examples like:

-Park rangers in Arizona’s Petrified Forest who worked with social psychologists to reduce theft - beginning by throwing out “no stealing” signs
-German walls that “pee back” at public urinators
-A $2.3 billion legal settlement against Pfizer that revealed how whistleblower protections fail to reduce corporate malfeasance
-NYC subway ads that reduced manspreading
-How Richmond, California, reduced gun violence by offering young firearm offenders $1,000 monthly rewards for good behavior

Revelatory and counterintuitive, The Behavioral Code catalyzes the conversation about how the law can effectively improve human conduct and respond to some of our most pressing issues today, from police misconduct to corporate malfeasance.

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A Tale of Two Codes

The Punishment Delusion

Of Sticks, Carrots, and Elephants

The Moral Dimension

Civil Obedience

Following the Herd

Empowering Change

Speed Bumps for Terrorists

Eating Systems for Breakfast

Behavioral Jurisprudence


“In an engaging, scientifically grounded fashion, van Rooij and Fine expertly link the findings of behavioral science with evidence of how people respond to laws, regulations, and legal sanctions. An excellent and urgent reminder of how behavioral science is essential to our understanding of law.” - Robert B. Cialdini, author of Influence and Pre-Suasion

“Accessible, timely, and compelling, The Behavioral Code explores the vast literature concerning punishment and provides a blueprint for reforming the criminal justice system—one where we can better understand just how effective our laws may or may not be. A surprisingly refreshing read.” - Erwin Chemerinsky, dean, UC Berkeley School of Law, and author of The Case Against the Supreme Court

“Sometimes we follow the law, and sometimes we don’t - but why do we pick and choose which rules are worth following? Van Rooij and Fine tackle this complex question by using our contemporary understanding of behavioral ethics to predict human responses to laws. Through fresh and fascinating analysis, The Behavioral Code has the potential to lead policymakers to make wiser decisions to pass laws that make the most sense given how humans actually behave.” - Max H. Bazerman, author of Better, Not Perfect and Blind Spots

“The law is an embarrassment for its failure to account for the facts about how or whether its rules actually work. This brilliant and foundational text, beautifully written and compelling, will launch a long-needed movement for a much more empirically based and practically focused approach to the many critical dimensions of regulation that the law must advance. The current system is deeply unjust; this book points a clear way to making it much more just.” - Lawrence Lessig, Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership, Harvard Law School

“If you’ve ever dreamed of a legal system that’s informed by behavioral science, this book could very well move us one step closer to making your dream a reality.” - Adam Grant, author of Think Again and host of the TED podcast WorkLife

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