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Context-Dependence in Legal Decision Making


  • Kelman, Mark
  • Rottenstreich, Yuval
  • Tversky, Amos


Classical theories of choice associate with each option a unique value such that, given an offered set, the decision maker chooses the option of highest value. An immediate consequence is context-independence: the relative ranking of any two options should not vary with the presence or absence of other options. Five experiments reveal two systematic violations of context-independence in legal decision making: the same option is evaluated more favorably when it is intermediate rather than extreme in the offered set (compromise), and the same option is evaluated more favorably in the presence of a similar option that is clearly inferior to it (contrast). Prescriptive implications of context-dependence in legal decision making are discussed. Copyright 1996 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • Kelman, Mark & Rottenstreich, Yuval & Tversky, Amos, 1996. "Context-Dependence in Legal Decision Making," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(2), pages 287-318, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:25:y:1996:i:2:p:287-318
    DOI: 10.1086/467979

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    Cited by:

    1. Pedro Bordalo & Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2015. "Salience Theory of Judicial Decisions," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(S1), pages 7-33.
    2. repec:eee:joepsy:v:73:y:2019:i:c:p:102-122 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Lewisch, Peter, 2003. "A theory of identification," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 439-451, December.
    4. Hsiung Bingyuan, 2009. "Benchmarks and Economic Analysis," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 75-99, March.

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