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book, cover, The Behavioral Code, Adam Fine, Benjamin ven Rooij, Beacon Press, ASU, criminal justice
October 2021
Beacon Press

College or Unit:

The Behavioral Code

The Hidden Ways the Law Makes Us Better ... Or Worse
Benjamin van Rooij and Adam Fine

From beacon.org:

Why do some laws radically change behavior whereas others are consistently ignored and routinely broken? Why do we keep relying on harsh punishment against crime even though it continues to fail?

Professors Benjamin van Rooij and Adam Fine present the first accessible analysis of behavioral jurisprudence, which will fundamentally alter how we understand the connection between law and human behavior. Drawing upon decades of research, the authors reveal the behavioral code: the root causes and hidden forces that drive human behavior and our responses to society’s laws.

"The Behavioral Code" offers a necessary and different approach to battling crime and injustice that is based in understanding the science of human misconduct — rather than relying on punishment to shape behavior. The book will show how this code affects all of us using such illustrative examples as:

  • Park rangers in Arizona’s Petrified Forest who worked with social psychologists to reduce theft — beginning by throwing out “no stealing” signs.
  • New York City subway ads that reduced manspreading.
  • How Richmond, California, reduced gun violence by offering young firearm offenders $1,000 monthly rewards for good behavior.

Revelatory and counterintuitive, "The Behavioral Code" catalyzes the conversation about how the law can effectively improve human conduct and respond to some of our most pressing issues today, from police misconduct to corporate malfeasance. 


Adam Fine is an assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice and of law and behavioral sciences at ASU.

Benjamin van Rooij is a professor in law and society and the director of research at the School of Law at the University of Amsterdam and the Global Professor of Law at the University of California, Irvine. 

Praise for this book

“If you’ve ever dreamed of a legal system that’s informed by behavioral science, this book could very well move us one step closer to making your dream a reality."

Adam Grant
Author of "Think Again" and host of the TED podcast "WorkLife"

“An excellent and urgent reminder of how behavioral science is essential to our understanding of law.”

Robert B. Cialdini
Author of "Influence" and "Pre-Suasion"