Infected by bias: Behavioral science and the legal response to covid-19

Doron Teichman, Kristen Underhill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This Article presents the first comprehensive analysis of the contribution of behavioral science to the legal response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the descriptive level, the Article shows how different psychological phenomena such as loss aversion and cultural cognition influenced the way policymakers and the public perceived the pandemic, and how such phenomena affected the design of laws and regulations responding to COVID-19. At the normative level, the Article compares nudges (i.e., choice-preserving, behaviorally informed tools that encourage people to behave as desired) and mandates (i.e., obligations backed by sanctions that dictate to people how they must behave). The Article argues that mandates rather than nudges should serve in most cases as the primary legal tool used to regulate behavior during a pandemic. Nonetheless, this Article highlights ways in which nudges can complement mandates.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)205-248
Number of pages44
JournalAmerican Journal of Law and Medicine
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s).


Dive into the research topics of 'Infected by bias: Behavioral science and the legal response to covid-19'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this