Committing the English and the Continental Way - An Experiment

23 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2017

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

André Schmelzer

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

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Date Written: August 2017

Abstract

On the doctrinal surface, there is a deep divide between common and continental law when it comes to the origin of contractual obligations. Under continental law, in principle a unilateral promise suffices. Common law by contrast requires consideration. When it comes to deciding cases, the divide is much less pronounced. But for the most part the law does not govern people's lives through adjudication. It matches or molds their moral intuitions. We test these intuitions in the lab. If consideration is required, participants believe that all participants make more ambitious promises. But they themselves make a more cautious promise. These two effects cancel out, so that promises are not more likely to be kept with consideration.

Keywords: contract, obligation, promise, consideration, experiment, modified dictator game

JEL Classification: C91, D02, D03, D12, D64, H41, K12

Suggested Citation

Engel, Christoph and Schmelzer, André, Committing the English and the Continental Way - An Experiment (August 2017). MPI Collective Goods Preprint, No. 2017/16, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3024525 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3024525

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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Rotterdam
Netherlands

Universität Osnabrück - Faculty of Law

Osnabruck, D-49069
Germany

André Schmelzer

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

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
D-53113 Bonn, 53113
Germany

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