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Using laboratory experiments to study law and crime


  • Christine Horne


  • Heiko Rauhut



The 19th and 20th centuries produced breakthroughs in physics, chemistry, and the biological sciences. Laboratory research played an important role in the rapid advances made in these fields. Laboratory research can also contribute progress in the social sciences and, in particular, to law and criminology. To make this argument, we begin by discussing what laboratory experiments can and cannot do. We then provide three illustrations of lab experiments that have contributed to understanding of crime and law and discuss how these laboratory data complement those gained through other methods. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Christine Horne & Heiko Rauhut, 2013. "Using laboratory experiments to study law and crime," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 47(3), pages 1639-1655, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:qualqt:v:47:y:2013:i:3:p:1639-1655
    DOI: 10.1007/s11135-011-9617-8

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kessler, Daniel P & Levitt, Steven D, 1999. "Using Sentence Enhancements to Distinguish between Deterrence and Incapacitation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(1), pages 343-363, April.
    2. Francesco Drago & Roberto Galbiati & Pietro Vertova, 2009. "The Deterrent Effects of Prison: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(2), pages 257-280, April.
    3. Ivar Krumpal & Heiko Rauhut & Dorothea Böhr & Elias Naumann, 2011. "The framing of risks and the communication of subjective probabilities for victimizations," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 45(6), pages 1331-1348, October.
    4. Lance Lochner, 2007. "Individual Perceptions of the Criminal Justice System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 444-460, March.
    5. repec:cup:apsrev:v:83:y:1989:i:01:p:77-91_08 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. P.-A. Chiappori, 2002. "Testing Mixed-Strategy Equilibria When Players Are Heterogeneous: The Case of Penalty Kicks in Soccer," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1138-1151, September.
    7. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, 2003. "Professionals Play Minimax," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 395-415.
    8. Francesco Guala, 2002. "On the scope of experiments in economics: comments on Siakantaris," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(2), pages 261-267, March.
    9. Moschini, GianCarlo, 2004. "Nash equilibrium in strictly competitive games: live play in soccer," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 85(3), pages 365-371, December.
    10. Heiko Rauhut & Marcel Junker, 2009. "Punishment Deters Crime Because Humans Are Bounded in Their Strategic Decision-Making," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 12(3), pages 1-1.
    11. Shepherd, Joanna M, 2002. "Fear of the First Strike: The Full Deterrent Effect of California's Two- and Three-Strikes Legislation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 159-201, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christoph Engel, 2016. "Experimental Criminal Law. A Survey of Contributions from Law, Economics and Criminology," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2016_07, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.


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