Law and the Stable Self
13 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2012
Date Written: May 2012
In this Article, I examine several findings in social psychology related to individuals' preferences, and I explore how those findings subvert the Enlightenment vision of a stable and knowable self in ways that are quite relevant to law. I first explore one well-known finding in the cognitive bias literature, the status quo bias, and marshal some of the research suggesting ways in which this bias may affect individuals' behavior vis-a-vis legal systems. Second, I discuss the potential ways in which temporal construal research-research on the way in which individuals see things differently depending on the time frame in which the events will occur-may relate to legal systems. Finally, I address how well some of the fundamental premises of our litigation system dovetail with psychological research on what individuals want. Our civil legal system is predicated on the recovery of money for harm done, but research suggests that money damages may be inadequate to meet some basic human desires.
Keywords: law and psychology, litigation, contract law, insurance, remedies, cognitive basis, status quo bias, temporal construal, individual preferences, the self
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