Nadler on Expressive Law & Social Norms @NorthwesternLaw @ABFResearch

Janice Nadler, Northwestern University School of Law; American Bar Association, is publishing Expressive Law & Social Norms in the Research Handbook in Law and Psychology (forthcoming). Here is the abstract.

One of the central goals of law is to regulate behavior. Laws might be designed to encourage or discourage various activities. Legal regulation can achieve its aims directly through rewards and punishments, or it can do so indirectly by changing attitudes about the regulated behavior. When legal regulation succeeds in influencing attitudes about the underlying morality of a targeted behavior, law can maximize its efficacy and efficiency. By shifting moral attitudes, law diminishes the need for the state to enforce sanctions or even to monitor the activity in question. In this chapter, we examine the conditions under which legal regulation might shift underlying attitudes. Sometimes legal regulation appears to have influenced moral attitudes, and in other instances it has not. The power of law to shift moral attitudes depends on several factors, including the significance of the targeted belief to an individual’s cultural identity, the existence of underlying dissensus about the issue in question, and the extent to which law intends to modify the underlying meaning of the conduct in question, rather than merely changing the behavior itself.

Download the essay from SSRN at the link.