A Behavioral Approach to International Legal Cooperation
33 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2011 Last revised: 5 Jul 2012
Date Written: July 4, 2012
International relations theories have largely ignored the role of individual people who play key roles in treaty design and participation; instead, that scholarship assumes that other factors, such as treaty enforcement, matter most. We use experiments drawn from behavioral economics and cognitive psychology — along with a substantive survey focused on international trade treaties — to illustrate how two traits (patience and strategic skills) could influence treaty outcomes. More patient and strategic players favor treaties with larger numbers of countries (and thus larger long-term benefits). These behavioral traits had much larger impacts on simulated treaty outcomes than treaty enforcement mechanisms. This study is based on a sample of 509 university students yet provides a baseline for future experimental and survey research on actual policy elites who design and implement treaties; a preliminary sample of 73 policy elites displays the same main patterns described in this paper.
Keywords: international law, behavioral economics, survey experiment
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation