IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Role Induced Bias in Court: An Experimental Analysis


  • Andreas Glöckner

    (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)

  • Christoph Engel

    () (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)


Criminal procedure is organized as a tournament with predefined roles. We show that assuming the role of a defense counsel or prosecutor leads to role induced bias even if participants are asked to predict a court ruling after they have ceased to act in that role, and if they expect a substantial financial incentive for being accurate. The bias is not removed either if participants are instructed to predict the court ruling in preparation of plea bargaining. In line with parallel constraint satisfaction models for legal decision making, findings indicate that role induced bias is driven by coherence effects (Simon, 2004), that is, systematic information distortions in support of the favored option. This is mainly achieved by downplaying the importance of conflicting evidence. These distortions seem to stabilize interpretations, and people do not correct for this bias. Implications for legal procedure are briefly discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Andreas Glöckner & Christoph Engel, 2010. "Role Induced Bias in Court: An Experimental Analysis," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2010_37, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, revised Jan 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:mpg:wpaper:2010_37

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Mark Schweizer, 2012. "Comparing Holistic and Atomistic Evaluation of Evidence," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2012_21, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.

    More about this item


    Coherence effects; Legal Decision Making; Biases; Parallel Constraint Satisfaction; Intuition;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mpg:wpaper:2010_37. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Marc Martin). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.