Decision Maker Preferences for International Legal Cooperation

Posted: 8 Dec 2011

See all articles by Emilie Marie Hafner-Burton

Emilie Marie Hafner-Burton

UCSD School of Global Policy and Strategy

Brad L. LeVeck

University of California, Merced

David G. Victor

UC San Diego, School of Global Policy and Strategy

James H. Fowler

UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences; UC San Diego School of Medicine

Date Written: February 23, 2012

Abstract

International relations and legal theories on treaty design and participation have relied heavily on the structure of bargaining problems, the allocation of power in the international system, and interest group politics to explain states’ preferences for cooperation. Using experiments drawn from behavioral economics and cognitive psychology — along with a substantive survey focused on international trade treaties — we suggest that the personality traits of the individual people asked to play key roles in negotiating and ratifying international treaties also shape their preferences for how treaties are designed and put into practice. Players whose personality traits include patience were more likely to seek treaties with larger numbers of countries (and thus larger long-term benefits). And players with the skill to anticipate how others will respond over multiple iterations of strategic games also were likely to imagine that the complex strategic challenges of large membership are manageable. We find that the presence of an enforcement mechanism increased the willingness of players to join treaties. However, personality traits were even more important. More strategic players also were more likely to favor joining the agreement and this effect is about twice the effect of adding enforcement. Our study, based on a sample of 509 university students, provides a baseline for future experimental and survey research on actual policy elites who design and implement treaties.

Keywords: international law, behavioral economics, survey experiment

Suggested Citation

Hafner-Burton, Emilie Marie and LeVeck, Brad L. and Victor, David G. and Fowler, James H., Decision Maker Preferences for International Legal Cooperation (February 23, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2100546 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1969905

Emilie Marie Hafner-Burton (Contact Author)

UCSD School of Global Policy and Strategy ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0519
United States

HOME PAGE: http://gps.ucsd.edu/ehafner/

Brad L. LeVeck

University of California, Merced ( email )

P.O. Box 2039
Merced, CA 95344
United States

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.ucmerced.edu/bleveck

David G. Victor

UC San Diego, School of Global Policy and Strategy ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0519
United States

James H. Fowler

UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu

UC San Diego School of Medicine ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
MC 0507
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu

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