The proposed research is aimed at empirically evaluating specific legal instruments based on their psychological efficacy in various legal settings. The project highlights the importance of taking psychological perspectives into account when selecting an optimal instrument. The optimal legal instrument will be evaluated based on its ability to cause people to engage in cooperative behaviour, to be perceived as more legitimate in regulating specific behaviours and according to its ability to mobilize social norms in a desired direction. The psychological and sociological theories that I will draw upon will be theories of legitimacy, justice research, social norms, attitude change and cooperation in groups.
The project will focus on employment settings as a case study for the comparison of contracts, laws and collective agreements. Following the general argument described above, the project will attempt to explore what legal instrument is best for which sector (e.g. high-tech; blue collar) and for what kinds of norms (e.g. privacy, ownership, employee benefits). This project will use field survey combined with experimental methodology. I will use various samples of employees from different sectors of the industry. Within each sample, I will use a priming technique, operationalized by random assignments of stylised vignettes to subgroups of the sample, in which the content of the norm will be identical, only the source of the norm will be manipulated.
This procedure will be conducted on various legal norms and sectors and will allow me to compare the affect of the legal source on factors such as legitimacy, willingness to comply, and perceived social norm. This experimental approach will allow me to evaluate not only what source is optimal but also whether one could find an interaction between the source, the industrial sector and the legal norm, hence leading to specific policy implications.
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