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Committing the English and the Continental Way – An Experiment

Author

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  • Christoph Engel

    (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods)

  • André Schmelzer

    (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Christoph Engel & André Schmelzer, 2017. "Committing the English and the Continental Way – An Experiment," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2017_16, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  • Handle: RePEc:mpg:wpaper:2017_16
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    File URL: http://www.coll.mpg.de/pdf_dat/2017_16online.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    contract; obligation; promise; consideration; experiment; modified dictator game;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • K12 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Contract Law

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