Avainsana: human behavioral

Episode 25: Decoding Law with Neuroscience with Dominique Ashby

Dominique Ashby

At first, neuroscience and law may seem an odd combination. Neuroscience examines the human nervous system and tries to explain human behavior. When using this understanding in law, it will help us create better law, legislation, and policy. And lead to situations where rights and obligations are understandable for everyone.

Profound understanding of human behavior is a key to success in legal design projects. Where legal design doesn’t necessarily aim to nudge people to certain choices, it still seeks to influence people’s behavior in a positive way. When people’s cognitive and emotional needs are being met, and they can truly understand what is expected of them, they are more likely to make choices that support the legal wellbeing of themselves and others. Should every legal design team then have their own neuroscientist?

In this episode we discuss the possibilities of neuroscience in legal design with neuroscientist Dominique Ashby. Dominique tells us how neuroscience can help law to achieve it’s missions, and on the other hand, what are the perils of behavioral influencing. We also discuss the importance of brain health in work life. If you still brag with your working hours instead of your sleeping hours – this episode is for you!

Dominique Ashby is a former lawyer, who decided to bring her first passion, neuroscience, into the business world. In her own consultancy company, Neuro@Work, Dominique advises organisations in change management using the power of neuroscience. She has also experience from working with legal design teams.

Following a successful first career as a lawyer in private practice, in-house and with alternative legal providers, Dominique decided to bring her first passion, neuroscience, into the business world.  Dominique takes the headache out of change for organisations with strategies and toolkits based in neuroscience that reduce resistance and increase productivity during times of change. Using the power of neuroscience she helps us all reach our full potential at work.

4. Episode: Behavioral Insights into Law with David Tannenbaum

David Tannenbaum

In this episode Nina and Henna talk about nudging and its possibilities and pitfalls in legal design with David Tannenbaum, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Management at the University of Utah’s Eccles School of Business.

Where law seeks to influence human behavior by setting obligations, legal design aims to make those obligations easier to understand and follow by using human centric design methods. Sometimes these methods can encompass behaviorally informed ”nudges”. In behavioral economics nudges are defined as any kind of interventions in the physical or social environment that alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. So to say, nudges make certain decisions easier, yet without limiting one’s freedom of choice. To put it simply, nudging means guiding people to make better choices by modifying the environment and choice architecture. A fitness app nudges with activity notifications, so does a car navigator showing the best route options.

Nudging, however, also has a reputation of being a psychological trick used in product marketing: those chocolate bars placed next to a cash register at your grocery store aren’t there just by random. But should legal products such as contracts and court documents use nudging too? Or do they nudge already?

Nudging just might be one of the misunderstood concepts and rarely used intentionally in the legal world. Years ago, when Henna wanted to attend a conference about nudging, her manager at that time thought it was a self help course about managing one’s own personal life that had nothing to do with law and didn’t let her attend the event. However, after Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein published their book Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness in 2008 nudging has gained public awareness and has also become a popular alternative to traditional regulation in various governments and administrations around the world, especially in angosaxon jurisdictions.

Despite the controversial reputation nudging may have, it is good to remember that our environment influences us anyway.  As our guest David reminds, “every day, all the time, everywhere you go, there’s nudging going on”. Nudging is not a legal concept, but as lawyers and legal designers still influence the decisions of their clients and peers, it is better to be aware of the power of nudge and learn to use it ethically and wisely.

David Tannenbaum is an assistant professor in the department of management at the University of Utah’s Eccles School of Business. His research focuses on decision making under uncertainty, and its applications to public policy. Link to David Tannenbaum’s website: https://davetannenbaum.github.io