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Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Coordinating In The Shadow Of The Law: Two Contextualized Tests Of The Focal Point Theory Of Legal Compliance, Richard H. Mcadams, Janice Nadler Jan 2008

Coordinating In The Shadow Of The Law: Two Contextualized Tests Of The Focal Point Theory Of Legal Compliance, Richard H. Mcadams, Janice Nadler

Faculty Working Papers

In situations where people have an incentive to coordinate their behavior, law can provide a framework for understanding and predicting what others are likely to do. According to the focal point theory of expressive law, the law's articulation of a behavior can sometimes create self-fulfilling expectations that it will occur. Existing theories of legal compliance emphasize the effect of sanctions or legitimacy; we argue that, in addition to sanctions and legitimacy, law can also influence compliance simply by making one outcome salient. We tested this claim in two experiments where sanctions and legitimacy were held constant. Experiment 1 demonstrated ...