The work of this lab is inspired by that of Professor Harrison’s Unintended Consequences Blog.  

Unintended consequences are everywhere. They result because human behavior is unpredictable. When individuals, groups, or governments take action with a goal in mind, that goal is almost never the only result of the action. When the other, usually unforeseen, outcomes are significant enough to be of note, they earn this distinction.  In his seminal paper, “The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action,” Robert K. Merton wrote:  
“we may have sufficient knowledge of the limits of the range of possible consequences, and  even adequate knowledge for ascertaining the statistical . . . probabilities of the various possible sets of consequences, but it is impossible to predict with certainty the results in any particular case . . . We have here the paradox that whereas past experience is the sole guide to our expectations on the assumption that certain past, present and future acts are sufficiently alike . . . these experiences are in fact different.”  
The most prominent examples are negative, or undesirable, unintended consequences of government policies. But unintended consequences, both positive and negative, can result from the actions of private individuals and groups as well. The goal of our lab is to study these, hence enhancing our understanding of their origins. Ultimately, in the case of negative unintended consequences, we hope that bringing the study of unintended consequences into the controlled environment of the laboratory will help policymakers think before they act, so as to potentially avoid creating negative unintended consequences going forward.