Expressive Law: Framing or Equilibrium Selection?

55 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2003

See all articles by Iris Bohnet

Iris Bohnet

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Robert D. Cooter

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Abstract

Besides deterring people, laws may affect behavior by changing preferences or beliefs. A law may elicit intrinsic motivation by framing an act as wrong. Alternatively, it may coordinate the behavior of different people by changing their beliefs about what others will do. We investigate framing and coordination effects experimentally in prisoner's dilemma, "crowding" and coordination games. We simulate a law by imposing a probabilistic penalty on one of the choices. In the prisoner's dilemma and the crowding game, announcing the penalty had no effect. In the coordination game, announcing the penalty caused behavior to jump to the Pareto-superior equilibrium.

Keywords: Equilibrium selection, framing, expressive law, experiments, coordination, prisoner's dilemma

JEL Classification: C72, C91, K42

Suggested Citation

Bohnet, Iris and Cooter, Robert D., Expressive Law: Framing or Equilibrium Selection?. KSG Working Paper No. RWP03-046; and UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 138. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=452420 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.452420

Iris Bohnet (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-5605 (Phone)
617-496-5747 (Fax)

Robert D. Cooter

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
510-642-0503 (Phone)
510-642-3767 (Fax)

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