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Introduction to Behavioral Law and Economics

Law and economics provides useful guidance for how legal institutions should be designed, but the field relies on strong assumptions about individuals’ decision-making in the rational-actor framework. Empirical evidence from psychology and behavioral economics document systematic biases in individual decision-making, casting doubt on the assumptions of neoclassical economics. This course will explore the basic concepts of the rational-choice in economics and analyze how individuals deviate from the standard assumptions economists make regarding human behavior. Combining empirical and experimental results from psychology and economics, students will examine the roles that bounded rationality, willpower, and self-interest play in law and economics, regulation, and the legal system more broadly. Previous background in economics is helpful but not required.