Associations Between Law, Competitiveness, and the Pursuit of Self-Interest

Mitchell J. Callan and Aaron C. Kay

in Ideology, Psychology, and Law

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199737512
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918638 | DOI:

Series: Series in Political Psychology

Associations Between Law, Competitiveness, and the Pursuit of Self-Interest

Show Summary Details


This chapter will discuss and provide evidence for the idea that the law’s existence shapes social reality by implicitly fostering the sense that people are, and perhaps should be, competitive and untrustworthy. Drawing on research from social cognition and legal studies, it will argue that people tend to associate the law with self-interestedness due to their encounter with the legal system. Through legal socialization—the acquisition of legal knowledge through direct instruction, experience and popular media—people come to mentally associate the law with competitiveness. This chapter will argue that this is precisely due to the way the legal system operates, at least in societies adopting an adversarial legal system.

Keywords: untrustworthy; social cognition; self-interest; legal socialization; legal knowledge; competitiveness; adversarial legal system

Chapter.  11211 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Psychology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.