The Coevolution of Behavior and Normative Expectations: Customary Law in the Lab

29 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2012 Last revised: 9 Dec 2016

See all articles by Christoph Engel

Christoph Engel

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods; University of Bonn - Faculty of Law & Economics; Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), Erasmus School of Law, Rotterdam Institute of Law and Economics, Students; Universität Osnabrück - Faculty of Law

Michael J. Kurschilgen

Technical University Munich; Max Planck Institute for Collective Goods

Date Written: December 1, 2011

Abstract

Customary law has been criticized from very different angles. Rational choice theorists claim that what looks like custom is nothing but self-interest. Positivists doubt that anything beyond consent assumes the force of law. In this paper, we adopt an experimental approach to test these claims. We show that the willingness to overcome a dilemma transcends self-interest. Cooperation is significantly higher in the presence of a meta-rule for the formation of customary law. Yet only if it is backed up by sanctions, law is significantly more effective than mere comity. Customary law guides behavior into the normatively desired direction as normative expectations and behavioral patterns co-evolve.

Keywords: experiment, Public Good, Customary Law, Normativity, Crowding Out

JEL Classification: H41, D63, C91, D62, K10, D03, C14

Suggested Citation

Engel, Christoph and Kurschilgen, Michael J., The Coevolution of Behavior and Normative Expectations: Customary Law in the Lab (December 1, 2011). MPI Collective Goods Preprint, No. 2011/32, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1983946 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1983946

Christoph Engel (Contact Author)

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

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University of Bonn - Faculty of Law & Economics

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Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), Erasmus School of Law, Rotterdam Institute of Law and Economics, Students ( email )

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Universität Osnabrück - Faculty of Law

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Michael J. Kurschilgen

Technical University Munich ( email )

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München, 80333
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.mecon.wi.tum.de/index.php?id=28

Max Planck Institute for Collective Goods ( email )

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D-53113 Bonn, 53113
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.coll.mpg.de/team/page/michael_kurschilgen

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