The Psychological Foundations of Behavioral Law and Economics

Over the past decade, psychological research has enjoyed a rapidly expanding influence on legal scholarship. This expansion has established a new field—“Behavioral Law and Economics” (BLE). BLE’s principal insight is that human behavior commonly deviates from the predictions of rational choice theory in the marketplace, the election booth, and the courtroom. Because these deviations are predictable, and often harmful, legal rules can be crafted to reduce their undesirable influence. Ironically, BLE seldom recognizes that its intellectual origins lie with psychology more so than economics. This failure leaves BLE open to criticisms that can be answered only by embracing the underlying psychological foundation of the field. Embracing psychology is harder than it seems, however, because psychology meshes much less easily with law than does economics. Consequently, BLE has yet to fully realize its potential and might never successfully do so

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