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Law is the most important system that we have to maintain our complex societies. Our laws are supposed to protect our property, safety, health, economy, and natural environment. But why do some laws radically change behavior whereas others are routinely broken?

Event details of The Behavioral Code: The Hidden Ways the Law Makes us Better… or Worse
Date 28 October 2021
Time 15:00 -16:30
The Behavioral Code - by Benjamin van Rooij & Adam Fine

About The Behavioral Code

Law is the most important system that we have to maintain our complex societies. Our laws are supposed to protect our property, safety, health, economy, and natural environment. But why do some laws radically change behavior whereas others are routinely broken? 

Drawing upon decades of research, professors Benjamin van Rooij and Adam Fine reveal the behavioral code: the root causes and hidden forces that drive human behavior and our responses to society’s laws. Packed with compelling examples—from park rangers in Arizona who reduced theft by altering “No Stealing” signs to German walls that “pee back” at public urinators to how Richmond, California offered rewards to curb gun violence and why a $2.3 billion legal settlement failed to reduce corporate malfeasance at Pfizer—they argue that law is destined to fail if it continues to rely on our intuitions rather than behavioral science. 

Van Rooij and Fine show how law can become more effective if it moves beyond reliance on extrinsic motivations and taps into the powerful influences of intrinsic motivations and situational influences on human conduct. They unveil a fundamentally new approach to law, a behavioral jurisprudence, that delivers the safety and justice our society so direly needs. Revelatory and counterintuitive, The Behavioral Code catalyzes conversations about how the law can improve human behavior and respond to some of the most pressing issues today, from police misconduct to environmental destruction.

About the authors

Benjamin van Rooij is a professor in law and society and the director of research at the School of Law at the University of Amsterdam and the Global Professor of Law at the University of California, Irvine. Findings from his work have been featured in the New York Times, The Hill, NPR, and Huffington Post. His research on law and behavior was awarded a highly competitive and prestigious 2-million-Euro grant by the European Research Council.

Adam Fine is an assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice and of law and behavioral sciences at Arizona State University. His award-winning research has been funded by the US Department of Justice and a Visionary Grant from the American Psychological Foundation. His applied work with community groups and justice systems on reducing crime and empowering people appears in the top psychology, public policy, and criminal justice journals.

For more information please contact Roland Pierik (R.Pierik@uva.nl)