Steiner, Talya, Liat Netzer, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. Forthcoming. “Necessity or Balancing: The Protection of Rights under Different Proportionality Tests – Experimental Evidence.”. International Journal of Constitutional Law.Abstract

Despite its global proliferation, there is no standard formulation for proportionality analysis. The result is debate over the optimal formulation and application of the doctrine and the ramifications of adopting different versions. A subset of this debate relates to which element of the doctrine provides rights with greater protection against competing public interests. Although this dispute is essentially empirical, arguments on the matter remain strictly theoretical.

This study presents the first experimental analysis of the effects of specific subtests of proportionality analysis on the level of protection afforded to rights. We find strong evidence that applying proportionality in terms of the necessity test – whether there are less-restrictive means - results in greater protection of rights in policy decisions than does applying proportionality in terms of the strict proportionality test – balancing the benefit against the harm.

The findings suggest that including a necessity component within the proportionality doctrine, and emphasizing it as a central stage of the analysis, can enhance the protection of rights in decisions regarding rights-restricting policy.
Yair, Omer, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. Forthcoming. “Distance Breeds Alienation: Perceived ideological distance lowers students' evaluations of their professors.”. Journal of Political Science Education. Abstract
Teaching social sciences frequently involves politically and ideologically fraught issues. This study examines the effect of students’ perceived ideological distance from their professors on their academic experience, drawing on a survey of 1,257 students from Social Science and Law faculties in Israel across five different universities. Congruent with previous findings from the US, the study's results demonstrate that perceived ideological distance lowers students' evaluations of their professors' commitment to their success. Implications of the findings are discussed with reference to the current underrepresentation of right-wing and conservative academics in the social sciences.
Motsenok, Marina, et al. Forthcoming. “The Slippery Slope of Temporary Measures: An Experimental Analysis”. Behavioural Public Policy. Abstract

Times of emergency often serve as triggers for the creation of new policy. Such policies may involve restriction of human rights, and various mechanisms can be used to mitigate the severity of such restrictions. One such mechanism is the temporary measure. A series of three experiments examined the potential of temporary measures for increasing the likelihood of approval of rights-restricting policy and the role of time – both prospectively and retrospectively – in the willingness to restrict human rights. We find that behavioural examination confirms the concerns expressed in the literature regarding temporary legislation. Participants asked to approve a rights-restricting policy were more willing to approve a temporary measure when it was presented as a compromise, and they were more willing to extend a rights-restricting policy when it had previously been implemented. These findings indicate a possible slippery slope effect in temporary legislation: policymakers might be persuaded to approve measures they would not otherwise approve when those measures are temporary or when they have been previously approved by others.

Kremnitzer, Mordechai, and Raanan Sulitean-Kenan. 2021. “Protecting Rights in the Policy Process: Integrating Policy Analysis and Proportionality.”. International Review of Public Policy 3 (1) : 51-71. Abstract

This paper proposes to break through the current divide between legal proportionality and policy analysis, and suggests that policy-making should and can be conducted in a way that facilitates the proportionality doctrine, while the latter is adapted to the unique goals and practices of policy analysis. Such integration of proportionality in policy analysis can streamline the consideration of fundamental rights in the policy-making process and consequently increase their protection. We further suggest that the proposed integration of proportionality in policy analysis may complement the limitations of courts in performing judicial review of policy, by offering courts procedural criteria, in addition to the often contested substantive criteria. We begin with a brief presentation of the two domains. Next, we review key differences between the practice of judges and policy-analysts, with the aim of designing the stages of policy analysis in a manner that suits its unique characteristics. Drawing on these foundations, we propose broad guidelines for a normative model of policy analysis that accommodates the requirements of proportionality. Lastly, we consider and discuss the implications of this potential development in policy analysis for the practice of judicial review of public policy.

Cohen-Blankshtain, Galit, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. 2021. “Foregone and Predicted Futures: Challenges of opportunity cost neglect and impact bias for public participation in policymaking”. Journal of European Public Policy. Abstract
Deliberative democracy fosters greater involvement of the public in policymaking. However, psychological challenges involved in eliciting policy preferences receive little attention in this context. This study addresses the implications of opportunity cost neglect (OCN) and impact bias for policy preferences. Utilizing a survey experiment among residents of peripheral towns in Israel, we examine preferences regarding investment in rail infrastructure in peripheral areas. In line with psychological studies on OCN, we find evidence that priming awareness to alternatives can de-bias OCN in policy preferences. However, this method is less effective for people who exhibit impact bias (respondents for whom the policy is new), presenting a serious challenge to the validity of policy preferences of those who are expected to be most affected by the considered policy. This paper offers a theoretical contribution to the relationship between OCN and impact bias, and discusses the practical implications for public participation in policymaking.
Yair, Omer, Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan, and Yoav Dotan. 2020. “Can Institutions Make Voters Care about Corruption?”. Journal of Politics 82 (4) : 1430-1442. Abstract
Voters’ punishment of corrupt politicians at the ballot box is oftentimes modest, at best. Recent studies suggest that this minor electoral sanctioning is due to limited corruption information and to the relative weakness of integrity considerations in voting behavior. We demonstrate that anticorruption measures taken by elite institutions—in this case, the Israeli Supreme Court—in close proximity to an election can increase electoral sanctioning by enhancing the importance of integrity considerations, holding corruption information fixed. We use the variation in incumbent integrity across time and space to identify the effect of an exogenous anticorruption decision by the Supreme Court on voting (study 1). We further test this effect in a novel survey experiment, with mayoral performance satisfaction as the dependent variable (study 2). Both studies demonstrate that judicial bodies have the capacity to influence electoral behavior by enhancing the importance of integrity considerations, holding corruption information constant.
Statman, Daniel, Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan, and Micha Mandel. 2020. 1-55 The Difficulty of Determining if Collateral Harm to Civilians in Wartime is Proportionate. Jerusalem: Israel Democracy Institute [in Hebrew]. Abstract

עקרון המידתיות הוא דרישה של המשפט ההומניטרי הבינלאומי שנועדה לרסן את השימוש בכוח צבאי כדי להגן על אזרחים בעת סכסוכים מזוינים. המחקר המוצג כאן בחן כיצד מיישמים את העיקרון אנשי אקדמיה המתמחים בענייני משפט ומוסר, קציני צבא ואזרחים שאינם מומחים )הדיוטות(. מהימנות השיפוטים בקבוצות אלו נבחנה על פי שלושה מדדים: מידת ההסכמה בין המומחים, הרגישות שלהם לגורמים רלוונטיים ועמידותם בפני הטיות. בניגוד לאזרחים, אנשי האקדמיה והקצינים עמדו בהצלחה במבחן הרגישות, ונדמה שהבינו היטב את עקרון המידתיות ברמה המופשטת; אך בבואם ליישמו – היינו לקבוע מה היקף הנזק האגבי הכרוך בפעולה שיאפשר לה להיות מוגדרת "מידתית", בכל אחת משתי הקבוצות נותרו המשתתפים חלוקים בשיפוטיהם. ממצאי המחקר מעוררים ספק ביכולתו של עקרון המידתיות להקנות הגנה לאזרחים בעת לחימה, גם אם הצדדים הלוחמים משתדלים לפעול לפיו.

Maor, M, R Sulitzeanu-Kenan, and D Chinitz. 2020. “When COVID-19, constitutional crisis, and political deadlock meet: The Israeli case from a disproportionate policy perspective.”. Policy & Society 39 (3) : 442-457. Abstract


This article describes the efforts made by the Israeli government to contain the spread of COVID-19, which were implemented amidst a constitutional crisis and a yearlong electoral impasse, under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was awaiting a trial for charges of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust. It thereafter draws on the disproportionate policy perspective to ascertain the ideas and sensitivities that placed key policy responses on trajectories which prioritized differential policy responses over general, nation-wide solutions (and vice versa), even though data in the public domain supported the selection of opposing policy solutions on epidemiological or social welfare grounds. The article also gauges the consequences and implications of the policy choices made in the fight against COVID-19 for the disproportionate policy perspective. It argues that Prime Minister Netanyahu employed disproportionate policy responses both at the rhetorical level and on the ground in the fight against COVID-19; that during the crisis, Netanyahu enjoyed wide political leeway to employ disproportionate policy responses, and the general public exhibited a willingness to tolerate this; and (iii) that ascertaining the occurrence of disproportionate policy responses is not solely a matter of perception.


Statman, Daniel, et al. 2020. “Unreliable Protection: An Experimental Study of Experts’ In-Bello Proportionality Decisions”. European Journal of International Law 31 (2) : 429-453. Abstract
The proportionality principle is an international humanitarian law requirement intended to constrain the use of military force in order to protect civilians in armed conflicts. This research experimentally assesses the reliability of its application by legal and moral experts (in 11 countries), by military officers (in two countries) and by laypeople. Reliability was evaluated according to three criteria: inter-expert convergence; sensitivity to relevant factors; and robustness – relative (lack of) susceptibility to biases. Unlike laypeople, experts and military officers performed well on the sensitivity criterion and manifested an appropriate understanding of the principle at the abstract level. However, both groups of experts failed to reach reasonable judgment convergence. These findings cast doubt on the reliability of the protection provided to civilians during warfare, even when warring parties attempt to abide by the proportionality principle.
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Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Raanan. 2020. “Blame Avoidance and Inquiries”. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics, Oxford University Press. Abstract

Public inquiries are ad hoc institutions, formally external to the executive branch, established by governments or a minister for the task of investigating crises, policy failures, or disasters. Inquiries play an important role in the aftermath of crisis by serving as instruments of accountability and policy learning. Yet the very existence and function of public inquiries are shaped by post crisis politics, in which public and politically independent inquiries create risks to potentially implicated players, who seek to avoid and mitigate potential blame. The blame-avoidance literature indeed provides a useful theoretical framework for the study of public inquiries. Empirical studies suggest that blame-attribution patterns are predictive of the political decision of whether to appoint an inquiry into a crisis. Studies of the effects of inquiries on public opinion show that, at the investigation stage, the institutional attributes of inquiries foster their legitimacy as a procedure for policy learning and accountability. However, after an inquiry reports its findings, members of the public can evaluate the report, rendering institutional attributes negligible in evaluating the inquiry. As for the effects of inquiries on the public agenda, existing evidence provides no support for a quantitative effect of inquiry appointment on the level of media coverage of a crisis. An integrated analysis of these findings offers an up-to-date theory of the political role of post crisis inquiries and points to some current gaps in our understanding of them.

Kremnitzer, Mordechai, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. 2020. “Proportionality and policy analysis: An integrative discussion and its applications”. Mishpat-Umimshal [in Hebrew]. Abstract

ההפרדה בין ניתוח מידתיות משפטי לבין ניתוח מדיניות מקשה על קובעי מדיניות ליישם את עקרון המידתיות ולצקת תוכן מעשי לתפקידם בהגנה על זכויות, וכ ן אינה מקנה לבית-המשפט כלים ברורים לעריכת ביקורת שיפוטית אפקטיבית על אותן החלטות. המאמר מצביע על הפוטנציאל הגלום באינטגרציה של מבחני המידתיות המשפטית וניתוח מדיניות המבוצע כראוי. היכרות הדדית של שני גופי ידע אלה עשויה להשביח את יישו מו של עקרון המידתיות ככלי להגנה על זכויות בתהליך עיצוב המדיניות – הן על-ידי קובעי המדיניות והן במסגרת הביקורת השיפוטית. עיקרי הצעדים הנובעים מן הניתוח: )א( הכללת קריטריון של "השפעה על זכויות מוגנות" כקריטריון- חובה במסגרת ניתוח מדיניות, כדרך להגברת הסיכוי ששלושת מבחני המידתיות יקבלו מענה בתהליך; )ב( דרישה מקצועית במסגרת ניתוח מדיניות לשקול כמה חלופות שונות מהותית, כדרך לתת מענה לדרישה הנורמטיבית של מבחן הצורך ולמזער את הפגיעה בזכויות על-ידי השוואת החלופות ו/או הכנסת שינויים מתאימים בחלופות הנשקלות; )ג( מכיוון ש ניתוח מדיניות מקצועי מחייב ביסוס עובדתי של תכלית המדיניות )קרי, ביסוס עובדתי של התופעה הבלתי- רצויה שהמדיניות נועדה להתמודד עימה(, ראוי שתשתית זו תוצג לפני בית-המשפט במסגרת הדיון בתכלית המדיניות ובשלושת מבחני המידתיות. אימוץ המלצות אלה עשוי לסייע לבית-המשפט לזהות דרכים להפעלת ביקורת על הרשות, מחד גיסא, תוך שמירת מרחב שיקול-הדעת של ה, מאידך גיסא, וליצ ור מערכת תמריצים לקובעי המדיניות לעריכת ניתוח מדיניות ראוי תוך הגנה על זכויות האדם.

Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Raanan, and Reimut Zohlnhofer. 2019. “Policy and Blame Attribution: Citizens' Preferences, Policy Reputations, and Policy Surprises”. Political Behavior 41 (1) : 53-77. Abstract

Negativity bias suggests that the attribution of blame to governments, for alleged or actual policy failures, is disproportionately pertinent for their popularity. However, when citizens attribute blame for adverse consequences of a policy, does it make a difference which policy was it, and who was the political agent that adopted the policy? We posit that the level of blame citizens attribute to political agents for policy failures depends on three policy-oriented considerations: (1) the distance between a citizen’s ideal policy and the agent’s established policy position; (2) the distance between a citizen’s ideal policy and the agent’s concrete policy choice; and (3) the distance between the agent’s established policy position and her concrete policy choice. The inherent relationship between these three policy-oriented considerations renders their integration in one model a theoretical and methodological imperative. The model provides novel observable predictions regarding the conditions under which each of the three policy-oriented factors will produce either pronounced or subtle observable effects on blame attribution. We test the model’s predictions in two survey experiments, in Israel and in Germany. The results of both experiments are highly consistent with the model’s predictions. These finding offer an important contribution by specifying the ways in which individual-level preferences interact with politicians’ policy reputations and policy choices to shape blame attribution. Our model entails unintuitive revisions to several strands of the literature, and in the “Discussion” section we provide tentative support for the applicability of this model to other political judgments beyond blame attribution.

Kendel, Uri, Ofir Pinto, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. 2019. “Social Security Contribution Evasion in Israel: Profiling and Characteristic Analysis of Debtors.”. Social Security 108 : 1-25 [in Hebrew]. Abstract

הביטוח הלאומי מממן את תשלומי הגמלאות על ידי גביית דמי ביטוח. כ-000,300 איש מדי שנה אינם משלמים בזמן את דמי הביטוח הלאומי, ויוצרים פער חוב שנתי בסכום של כ-430 מיליוני ש"ח. צמצום פער החוב כרוך בתהליך גבייה מורכב, הדורש מיפוי של אוכלוסיית החייבים וניתוחה ויכולת איתור חייבים בעייתיים. במחקר זה ביקשנו לתת מענה לצורך זה בשתי דרכים: )1 )בחינת השפעתם של מאפיינים אישיים דמוגרפיים, חברתיים וכלכליים על נטייתו של מבוטח לא לשלם דמי ביטוח לאומי; )2 )בניית פרופילים של טיפוסים שנטייתם לא לשלם חמורה. עד כה נעשו מחקרים כאלה בעיקר על חייבים במס הכנסה. מחקר זה מבוסס על נתונים מנהליים מהמוסד לביטוח לאומי, הכוללים מידע שוטף, מעודכן אחת לחודש, פרטני ומקיף אודות כל האוכלוסייה בישראל. בדומה לממצאי מחקרים שבחנו אי-תשלום מיסים, העלו ממצאי מחקר זה שהמאפיינים האישיים – מגדר, גיל, מעמד עבודה, רמת הכנסה וקבוצת מיעוט – משפיעים על הנטייה לא לשלם דמי ביטוח לאומי. נמצא גם קשר חזק בין נישואין להסתברות לאי-תשלום. ממצאי הפרופיילינג העלו שמבוטחים בני המגזר הערבי, לא נשואים, מחוסרי עבודה ונטולי הכנסה נוטים יותר מכל האחרים לא לשלם דמי ביטוח. למיטב ידיעתנו, זהו מחקר הפרופיילינג הראשון בעולם העוסק באי-תשלום דמי ביטוח לאומי. על בסיסו יוכלו רשויות גבייה בארץ ובעולם לתכנן פעולות גבייה ייעודיות לקבוצות החייבים.

Zamir, Eyal, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. 2018. “Explaining Self-Interested Behavior of Public-Spirited Policy Makers”. Public Administration Review 78 (4) : 579-592. Abstract

Public choice theory (PCT) has had a powerful influence on political science and, to a lesser extent, public administration. Based on the premise that public officials are rational maximizers of their own utility, PCT has a quite successful record of correctly predicting governmental decisions and policies. This success is puzzling in light of behavioral findings showing that officials do not necessarily seek to maximize their own utility. Drawing on recent advances in behavioral ethics, this article offers a new behavioral foundation for PCT's predictions by delineating the psychological processes that lead well‐intentioned people to violate moral and social norms. It reviews the relevant findings of behavioral ethics, analyzes their theoretical and policy implications for officials' decision making, and sets an agenda for future research

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Yair, Omer, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. 2018. “When Do We Care About Political Neutrality? The Hypocritical Nature of Reaction to Political Bias”. PLoS ONE 13 (5) : e0196674. Abstract

Claims and accusations of political bias are common in many countries. The essence of such claims is a denunciation of alleged violations of political neutrality in the context of media coverage, legal and bureaucratic decisions, academic teaching etc. Yet the acts and messages that give rise to such claims are also embedded within a context of intergroup competition. Thus, in evaluating the seriousness of, and the need for taking a corrective action in reaction to a purported politically biased act people may consider both the alleged normative violation and the political implications of the act/message for the evaluator’s ingroup. The question thus arises whether partisans react similarly to ingroup-aiding and ingroup-harming actions or messages which they perceive as politically biased. In three separate studies, conducted in two countries, we show that political considerations strongly affect partisans’ reactions to actions and messages that they perceive as politically biased. Namely, ingroup-harming biased messages/acts are considered more serious and are more likely to warrant corrective action in comparison to ingroup-aiding biased messages/acts. We conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for the implementations of measures intended for correcting and preventing biases, and for the nature of conflict and competition between rival political groups.

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Livnat-Lerer, Michal, Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan, and Tehila Kogut. 2018. “Foresighted Outcome Effect: A Micro-foundation of Agents' Risk Aversion in Principal-Agent Relations”. Journal of Behavioral Public Administration 1 (1) : 1-10. Abstract

Agents' risk aversion is a long-standing source of concern in principal-agent theory and in the practice of organizations. While standard principal-agent theory assumes that principals adequately infer conclusions from noisy outcomes, behavioral research suggests that their inferences are affected by outcome bias. We take a further theoretical step, and propose that when an agent knows that the principal's evaluation of the agent's decision will be based on outcome knowledge, the agent expects the principal to be overly affected by the outcome, rather than by the merit of the choice. As a result, the agent seeks to minimize the likelihood of an adverse outcome, leading to risk aversion. The results of three laboratory experiments support this hypothesis, suggesting that under outcome-knowledge-based principal-agent relationships, agents anticipate the effect of outcome bias on principals, and adjust their ex-ante behavior by opting for less risky alternatives, a phenomenon we call foresighted outcome effect.

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Maor, Moshe, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. 2016. “Responsive Change: Agency Output Response to Reputational Threats”. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 26 (1) : 31-44. Abstract

How do reputational threats affect agency outputs? We undertake quantitative and qualitative analyses of reputation and outputs data regarding the fight against welfare fraud by the main service delivery agency for the Australian government in the field of social policy. We find that an agency’s response to reputational threats is endogenously differential both within the set of agency outputs and between agency outputs and other activities (a pattern we termed responsive change ). For the former, we find that when an agency output is below average, negative media coverage leads to an increase in output in the following year. However, this relationship is nullified for agency outputs that are about average and is reversed for outputs that are above average, that is, these outputs tend to decrease following negative media coverage. For the latter, we find that when a reputational threat is joined by a general above average level of outputs, the agency’s drive for change is likely to be channeled into activities other than the number of units of service delivered (e.g., public relations, community engagements, stakeholder consultations, etc.).

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Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Raanan, Mordechai Kremnitzer, and Sharon Alon. 2016. “Facts, Preferences, and Doctrine: An Empirical Analysis of Proportionality Judgment”. Law & Society Review 5 (2) : 348-382. Abstract

Legal proportionality is one of the most important principles for adjudicating among conflicting values. However, rather little is known about the factors that play a role in the formation of proportionality judgments. This research presents the first empirical analysis in this regard, relying on a sample of 331 legal experts (lawyers and legal academics). The policy domain addressed by the experiment is the antiterrorist military practice of targeted killings, which has been the subject of a legal debate. Our experimental findings suggest that proportionality judgments are receptive to normatively relevant facts. We also find strong correlational evidence for the effect of ideological preferences on such judgments. These results are consistent for two proportionality doctrines. We suggest that proportionality judgment is anchored jointly in the experts’ policy preferences and the facts of the case. We outline the implications of the findings for the psychological and legal literature.

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Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Raanan, and Yifat Holzman-Gazit. 2016. “Form and Content: Institutional Preferences and Public Opinion in a Crisis Inquiry”. Administration & Society 48 (1) : 3-30. Abstract

Crisis inquiries are intended to serve as instruments for restoring legitimacy. This intended goal has led to particular legitimacy-enhancing institutional choices in the design of these ad hoc institutions. This research utilizes a national panel study to test the effect of institutional attributes of a crisis inquiry and the content of its report on its legitimacy, and the effects of the inquiry findings on public opinion regarding the inquired issue. Our results show that only some institutional attributes predicted the legitimacy of the inquiry findings, whereas the content of the report was strongly and consistently associated with report legitimacy.

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Yair, Omer, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. 2015. “Biased Judgment of Political Bias: Perceived Ideological Distance Increases Perceptions of Political Bias.”. Political Behavior 37 (2) : 487-507. Abstract
Accusations of political bias in the mass media, academia, the courts and various other institutions are common in many democracies. However, despite the prevalence of these accusations and the public attention they have received, research on the effects of perceived ideological distance on perceptions of political bias is lacking. Focusing on perceptions of political bias in academia, and drawing on a survey of 1,257 students in social science and law faculties in five Israeli universities, we show that the perceived ideological distance between a student and her set of professors increases perceptions of politically biased behavior of professors, and that the effects of 'left-wing' and 'right-wing' ideological distances are not symmetric. Possible implications and directions for further research are then suggested.
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