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Role Induced Bias in Court: An Experimental Analysis

Author

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  • Andreas Glöckner

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

  • Christoph Engel

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

Abstract

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
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    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

    Keywords

    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

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