Search results for: Author=Engel, Christoph [403]

Pages

Forthcoming
If the Worst Comes to the Worst. Dictator Giving When Recipient’s Endowments are Risky
European Economic Review
forthcoming
Abstract
Donors may often not be sure whether a recipient really deserves their help. Does this uncertainty deter generosity? In an experiment we find that, to the contrary, under most specifications of uncertainty, dictators give more, compared with the donation the same dictator makes to a recipient they know to have the expected value of the endowment with certainty. They are particularly concerned about the possibility that a recipient leaves the lab with no payoff from the game.
Modeling a Satisficing Judge
Rationality and Society
forthcoming
Abstract
Judges and juries frequently must decide, knowing that they do not know everything that would be relevant for deciding the case. The law uses two related institutions for enabling courts to nonetheless decide the case: the standard of proof, and the burden of proof. In this paper, we contrast a standard rational choice approach with a satisficing approach. Standard theory would want judges to rationally deal with the limitations of the evidence. We posit that this is not only descriptively implausible, but also normatively undesirable. We propose a theoretical framework for a judge who only considers scenarios that "she does not dare to neglect", and aims at decisions that are "good enough", given the undissolvable limitations of the evidence. We extend this approach to parties who strategically exploit the limited factual basis, and to judges who have to allocate limited resources for fact finding to more than one case.
2018
Editorial: Empirical Methods for the Law
Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics
174
5-4
2018
Empirical Legal Studies: CELS and CELSE
Review of Law & Economics
2018
Empirical Methods for the Law
Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics
174
5-23
2018
Abstract
To their credit, empirical legal scholars try to live up to the highest methodological standards from the social sciences. But these standards do not always match the legal research question. This paper focuses on normative legal argument based on empirical evidence. Whether there is a normative problem, and whether legal intervention promises to mitigate the problem, requires a decision. If uncertainty cannot be completely removed, the legal decision-maker must weigh the risk of false positives against the risk of false negatives. This may call for an adjustment of the significance level. The fact that all legal choice is historically contingent, that legal problems tend to be ill-defined, and that strategic actors have an incentive to bias the generation of evidence defy frequentist statistics. Yet the law can capitalize on the adversarial principle. Competition among interested parties helps contain the strategic element and spurs the creative search for better evidence. This leads to suggestive, but institutionally contained empirical evidence.
The Proper Scope of Behavioral Law and Economics
2018/02
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Bonn
2018
Abstract
Behavioral law and economics applies the conceptual tools of behavioral economics to the analysis of legal problems and legal intervention. These models, and the experiments to test them, assume an institution free state of nature. In modern societies, the law’s subjects never see this state of nature. However a rich arrangement of informal and formal institutions creates generalized trust. If individuals are sufficiently confident that nothing too bad will happen, they are freed up to interact with strangers as if they were in a state of nature. This willingness dramatically reduces transaction cost and enables division of labor. If generalized trust can be assumed, simple economic models are appropriate. But they must be behavioral, since otherwise individuals would not want to run the risk of interaction.
2017
At the Mercy of a Prisoner. Three Dictator Experiments
Applied Economics Letters
24
774-778
2017
Abstract
We test male juvenile prisoners on a dictator game with another anonymous co-prisoner as recipient. Prisoners give more than students, but less than nonstudents of their age. They give more to a charity than to another prisoner. In one of two experiments, those convicted for violent crime give more than those convicted for property crime.
Behaviorally Efficient Remedies – An Experiment
2017/17
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Bonn
2017
Abstract
Under common law, the standard remedy for breach of contract is expectation damages. Under continental law, the standard is specific performance. The common law solution is ex post efficient. But is it also ex ante efficient? We use experimental methods to test whether knowing that non-fulfilment will only lead to damages deters mutually beneficial trade. The design excludes aversion against others willfully breaking their promises. We find that there is indeed less trade if specific performance is not guaranteed, provided the preference for the traded commodity is sufficiently pronounced.
Committing the English and the Continental Way – An Experiment
2017/16
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Bonn
2017
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.
Defendant Should Have the Last Word – Experimentally Manipulating Order and Provisional Assessment of the Facts in Criminal Procedure
2017/24
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Bonn
2017
Abstract
From a normative perspective the order in which evidence is presented should not bias legal judgment. Yet psychological research on how individuals process conflicting evidence sug-gests that order could matter. The evidence shows that decision-makers dissolve ambiguity by forging coherence. This process could lead to a primacy effect: initial tentative interpretations bias the view on later conflicting evidence. Or the process could result in a recency effect: the evidence presented last casts decisive light on the case. In two studies (N1 = 221, N2 = 332) we test these competing hypotheses in a mock legal case. Legal orders sometimes even expect judges to provisionally assess the evidence. At least they have a hard time preventing this from happening. To test whether this creates or exacerbates bias, in the second dimensions, we explicitly demand experimental participants to express their leaning, after having seen half of the evidence. We consistently observe recency effects and no interactions with leanings. If the legal order wants to preempt false convictions, defendant should have the last word.