Experimental Study of Law
This chapter surveys literature on experimental law and economics. Long the domain of legally minded psychologists and criminologists, experimental methods are gaining significant popularity among economists interested in exploring positive and normative aspects of law. Because this literature is relatively new among legally-minded economists, we spend some time in this survey on methodological points, with particular attention to the role of experiments within theoretical and empirical scholarship, the core ingredients of a well done experiment, and common distinctions between experimental economics and other fields that use experimental methods. We then consider a number of areas where experimental evidence is increasingly playing a role in testing the underlying foundational precepts of economic behavior as it applies to law, including bargaining in the shadow of the law, the selection of suits for litigation, and the investigation of jury and judge behavior. Our survey concludes by offering some suggestions about what directions experimental economists might push the methodology in the study of legal rules.
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