Everyone who plays blackjack knows you take a hit on a 16 if the dealer has a 7 or better showing. If the dealer has a 6 or lower, you do not take a hit. It’s strictly a matter of probabilities. With a 16 you are very likely going to lose and taking the hit lowers the probability only slightly. I think it is 3% less likely you will you will lose.
When you are at the table and the dealer shows a 7 and you have a 16 it is very hard emotionally to take the hit. Why? Probably because you are likely to lose no matter what but, if you take the hit, you have a sense of taking an active role in participating in your loss. If you do not take the hit, then you feel more passive. After all, you might think, I did not cause the loss.
Rationally you know that you should take the hit but what behavioral economics tells us is that people feel a greater sense of regret when they take an active step that turns out to be a mistake than when doing nothing turns out to be a mistake. An example, is that someone feels worse if he or she buys a stock that goes down in value than if she or she declines to buy a stock that appreciates in value.Casinos make a great deal of money on the irrationality of not taking the hit.
Does the same thing apply to law schools, law, administrators, and people generally? Are they resistant to moving from position A to B because they regret making changes that fail more than they regret staying pat and failing even if the second type of potential failure is worse than the first?
Although it is easy to attribute inertia to self-interest, a more nuanced view may involve avoiding regret. This may apply to decisions about retirement, changing programs, appointing new administrators, and even what courses students take.

Jeffrey Harrison

Jeffrey Harrison received his B.S, M.B.A, and Ph.D from the University Florida. He taught economics for 5 years and continued to teach for 3 more years while attending law school at the University of North Carolina where he was a member of the Law Review and Coif. He is a member of the Texas Bar. He has taught at the University of North Carolina, the University of Houston, the University of Texas, Leiden University, and the Sorbonne (Paris).

Professor Harrison writes in the fields of contract law, antitrust law, copyright law and law and economics. He is the author of numerous articles and books in these areas. These are listed in his CV a link to which can be found on this page. His work has been cited by courts at every level including several times by the United States Supreme Court and by authors of other scholarly works.

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