Why Do We Have Laws That Govern Behavior

„It is not clear whether this type of government regulation of information—health warnings and advertising restrictions—has caused a noticeable change in smoking behavior,” the scientists write. „But a turning point came when the prospect of non-smokers being hurt by second-hand smoke emerged. At this point, smoking became more than just a matter of the smoker`s individual interest in the freedom to engage in an activity that harms oneself – now harm to others was a problem. „In the United States, it seems that we have laws, rules and regulations to monitor almost everything. We don`t always like these rules, as they often mean someone telling us what to do or preventing us from doing what we want. But to live in a civil society, we need certain rules that we must follow. A basic premise of Darwin`s view of evolution is that organisms were formed by natural selection to have characteristics (physical and behavioral) that match the details of a particular environment. The evolutionary gap (Giphart & Van Vugt, 2018) occurs when the organism is objectively in an environment that does not coincide with the ancestral environments surrounding the evolution of that organism. A simple example would be if you were trying to plant a palm tree in upstate New York.

This plant would not survive the winter. This is because the adaptations of this plant are adapted to more moderate conditions; Its ancestors developed in temperate environmental conditions. Inertia refers to the tendency of an object to resist a change in motion. As the first law of human behavior suggests, people also resist change, preferring to cling to the status quo. As a result, behavioral scientists have studied inertia versus our tendency to continue interpreting information in the same way. This reference article describes the history of inertia as a behavioral science concept and how we can apply this physical idea to how cognition works. In this article on the pros and cons of banning plastic straws, Holzwarth`s third law is fully enforced. While banning straws would significantly reduce plastic waste, the opportunity cost means consumers lose the ability to make conscious choices about their environmental impact. It can also be seen as an unintended consequence, where bans essentially make choice for the consumer, meaning they are less encouraged to think about their environmental impact in other situations.

I delineate here two of the most fundamental ideas in this field, which are formulated as scientific laws with derived principles. Laws in behavioral science generally have to be very general, and yet human behavior can always be outside a certain law—unlike how we expect physical matter to follow certain laws. Because psychology is considered a „soft” science, the field is generally reluctant to theorize the basic rules that govern behavior. Moreover, it may seem a bit forced to translate Newton`s laws of motion into similar laws of human behavior. That said, the laws seem intuitive once Holzwarth explains them, and like Newton`s laws, they seem obvious, even though we haven`t been able to form the connections before reading them. Recently, we have seen state and local governments pass laws that could cause us to question the limits of government power. For example: Six of the nine major supermarkets introduced POS food guidelines for research between 2013 and 2017. Now, the results will fuel the law: sweets and fatty snacks sold at checkouts and as part of supermarket offers will be banned by 2030, according to new government proposals to halve childhood obesity in England. In addition to laws designed to prevent people from hurting each other, some laws are written to prohibit self-harm. Basic parental laws include laws on compulsory schooling for children, laws against neglect of children and vulnerable adults, and laws prohibiting the possession of certain drugs. Some parenting laws are essential to protect children and vulnerable adults, but even in these cases they can be punitive if not drafted restrictively and reasonably enforced. Some people still think that psychology is a „soft science” without any „law” guiding work in our field.

While this may have been true in the past, the combination of psychology and Darwin`s ideas about evolution has really changed the game in the field. The idea of behavioral adaptation is a law in the scientific sense – based on the logic of natural selection. Similarly, the evolutionary imbalance that has produced various behavioral principles can be seen as a scientific law similarly rooted in the basis of natural selection. If you are a scientist, then you know better than arguing with the idea of natural selection. Thanks to the principles of evolution, there are laws we have documented that underlie human behavior. The field of psychology therefore has fundamental laws. The next time someone tells you that our science is soft, don`t be afraid to draw the Darwin card. Like the inertia of Newton`s first law of motion, the distortion of the status quo prevents us from changing our behavior. We need some strength for change to happen. In fact, inertia has been defined in behavioral science because of our resistance to change. Holzwarth describes two main types of forces that determine human behavior: friction and fuel.

Friction is a negative force because it acts as an obstacle to the execution of a behavior. For example, friction can be the call we have to make to make a doctor`s appointment or the line we have to stand on to renew our driver`s license. Various laws and rules have changed (or attempted) human behavior regarding their food choices, especially in the West as obesity rates rise and rise. In the UK, for example, it was reported in late 2018 that a study in which supermarkets removed sweets and chips from checkouts resulted in almost a fifth fewer unhealthy products being sold. In the United States, we have written laws that help us peacefully resolve disagreements through a fair justice system. It is up to the courts to interpret the laws. It is up to judges and juries to decide whether we have actually broken the law. In fact, standard economic analysis assumes that questions about the effect of the law on human behavior begin and end with the assumption that behavior responds to rewards and punishments. At the same time and in parallel, the law seeks squarely to shape the moral convictions of citizens.

If the law prohibits murder, it is because murder is wrong, and the language of the law sometimes makes clear the moral implications of the prohibited act. For example, criminal law traditionally classifies unintentional murder with a „corrupt heart” or an „abandoned and malicious heart” as murder, while other unintentional murders are simple manslaughter. Conversely, the laws of the Good Samaritan – though unusual in the United States – are designed to shape belief in the moral duty of salvation. „Since October 2015, large retailers in England have been required by law to charge 5p for all single-use plastic bags. They are required by law to report certain information to Defra and they provide other information about donations on a voluntary basis. This has had a huge impact on the use of plastic bags, but can also be seen as part of a change in attitude towards plastic in general. The scientists explain how research has shown that laws can express values – legislation can be loaded with ideas of ethics, right and wrong – which in turn can influence behaviour. Even if we expect other people to obey (or disobey) a law, it can impact our behavior. America`s commitment to the rule of law means that the same laws apply to every citizen, applied in a fair trial, to peacefully resolve disputes. This bias occurs when we make judgments about another person`s behavior and disproportionately attribute their actions to their personality as situational factors. As the second law of human behavior shows, a person`s behavior is determined by the interaction between a person and his environment. Personal and situational factors are important, and what matters is that a person`s unique reaction to their environment determines their behaviour.

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