About the Project
Behavioural research approaches refer to a variety of theories and methodologies from the social sciences, including psychology, sociology, economics, and cognitive and neuro-sciences, that challenge the notion of rationality in human decision-making processes. Through empirical research, behavioural studies provide evidence on the imperfect nature of human decisions and actions, including identifying the mechanisms that explain why people’s actions and decisions often defy their express goals. These insights into human cognition and decision-making motivations can inform better and more effective policies, and improve individual and organizational decision-making processes.
While these behavioural approaches are not new, their application to the study of international law and international organisations is developing. In particular, the behavioural approach to international law focuses on actual, rather than assumed, behaviour, in the study and application of international law. Accordingly, the main contribution of the behavioural approach to international law is to shed light on a variety of systemic biases in individual and group decision-making processes within various contexts of international law. Some of the applications of behavioural studies in the context of international law relate to processes affecting the development of international legal norms and organisations, while others explore how the legal design of international norms and institutions affect individuals applying these rules. The main advantage of behavioural research approaches to the study of international law lies in its potential to influence sensitive decision-making processes, and to produce effective policies which are better designed to achieve their intended outcomes.
BRAIN was established to create a network of scholars from various disciplines who apply behavioural approaches to the study of international law. We aim to bring together scholars applying different methodologies and theories in the study of international law, broadly defined. In particular, we aim to create opportunities to share research designs and research findings (including null findings), provide opportunities for collaborations, and inform community members about behavioural studies in international law taking place globally. The BRAIN website is designed as a platform to share and present research related to behavioral approaches and international law, and to inform about conferences and events related to the topic. The website is also intended to serve as a focal point for policy makers interested in this research.