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Heuristics and Biases in Bankruptcy Judges


  • Jeffrey J. Rachlinski
  • Chris Guthrie
  • Andrew J. Wistrich


Do specialized judges make better decisions than judges who are generalists? Specialized judges surely come to know their area of law well, but specialization might also allow judges to develop better, more reliable ways of assessing cases. We assessed this question by presenting a group of specialized judges with a set of hypothetical cases designed to elicit a reliance on common heuristics that can lead judges to make poor decisions. Although the judges resisted the influence of some of these heuristics, they also expressed a clear vulnerability to others. These results suggest that specialization does not produce better judgment.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey J. Rachlinski & Chris Guthrie & Andrew J. Wistrich, 2007. "Heuristics and Biases in Bankruptcy Judges," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 163(1), pages 167-186, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:mhr:jinste:urn:sici:0932-4569(200703)163:1_167:habibj_2.0.tx_2-o

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anderson, John C. & Lowe, D. Jordan & Reckers, Philip M. J., 1993. "Evaluation of auditor decisions: Hindsight bias effects and the expectation gap," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 711-737, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christoph Engel & Urs Schweizer, 2007. "Editorial Preface," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 163(1), pages 1-4, March.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K35 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Personal Bankruptcy Law
    • K41 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Litigation Process


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