Law and Literature: Theory and Evidence on Empathy and Guile

Review of Law and Economics, Forthcoming

30 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2019

See all articles by Daniel L. Chen

Daniel L. Chen

Directeur de Recherche, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Toulouse School of Economics, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, University of Toulouse Capitole, Toulouse, France

Date Written: December 29, 2017

Abstract

Legal theorists have suggested that literature stimulates empathy and affects moral judgement and decision-making. I present a model to formalize the potential effects of empathy on third parties. Empathy is modeled as having two components–sympathy (the decision-maker’s reference point about what the third party deserves) and emotional theory of mind (anticipating the emotions of another in reaction to certain actions). I study the causal effect with a data entry experiment. Workers enter text whose content is randomized to relate to empathy, guile, or a control. Workers then take the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET) and participate in a simple economic game. On average, workers exposed to empathy become less deceptive towards third parties. The result is stronger when workers are nearly indifferent. These results are robust to a variety of controls and model specifications.

Keywords: Normative Commitments, Other-Regarding Preferences, Empathy, Deception, Guile

JEL Classification: D64, D03, K00

Suggested Citation

Chen, Daniel L., Law and Literature: Theory and Evidence on Empathy and Guile (December 29, 2017). Review of Law and Economics, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3307750

Daniel L. Chen (Contact Author)

Directeur de Recherche, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Toulouse School of Economics, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, University of Toulouse Capitole, Toulouse, France ( email )

21 allée de Brienne
31015 Toulouse cedex 6 France
Toulouse, 31015
France

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