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The Biasing Effects of Memory Distortions on the Process of Legal Decision-Making


  • Nocetti Diego

    (Clarkson University)


This article investigates the impact of memory limitations and memory distortions on the process of legal decision-making. I develop a simple framework in which jurors establish interim judgments, which are later used by a memory technology to reconstruct, in an inductive process, evidence related to those judgments. The resulting behavior matches a number of stylized facts that are inconsistent with the standard Bayesian framework. I show that beliefs in a given hypothesis may remain unchanged, and may even be strengthened, in the face of disconfirming evidence. This, in turn, implies that the beliefs of two jurors with different memory technologies may deviate further apart as they receive new information, accounting for heterogeneous, i.e. opposite verdict choices, and strongly held beliefs after a large amount of information is presented. Finally, I show that in this setup the probability of legal errors is highest for moderate strengths of evidence.

Suggested Citation

  • Nocetti Diego, 2008. "The Biasing Effects of Memory Distortions on the Process of Legal Decision-Making," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 319-339, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:rlecon:v:4:y:2008:i:1:n:15

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Baddeley, Michelle & Parkinson, Sophia, 2012. "Group decision-making: An economic analysis of social influence and individual difference in experimental juries," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(5), pages 558-573.

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