Behavioral public choice and policing in America

Originally published in Behavioural Public Policy

A substantial experimental literature in behavioral economics and psychology finds that individuals rely on heuristics and cognitive biases when they make decisions. These heuristics and biases impact the choices of individuals from all walks of life, including police officers entrusted with the power to enforce laws. Individuals act within an institutional context. We examine how the institutions that structure American policing interact with the heuristics and biases of individual police officers. We then suggest institutional changes that may result in better performance from boundedly rational police officers.

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