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Cognitive dissonance, risk aversion and the pretrial negotiation impasse

  • Langlais, Eric

There exist evidence that asymmetrical information do exist between litigants: not in a way supporting Bebchuk (1984)'s assumption that defendants' degree of fault is a private information, but more likely, as a result of parties' predictive power of the outcome at trial (Osborne, 1999). In this paper, we suggest an explanation which allows to reconcilie different results obtained in experimental economics. We assume that litigants assess their estimates on the plaintiff's prevailing rate at trial using a two-stage process. First, they manipulate the available information in a way consistent with the self-serving bias. Then, these priors are weighted according to the individual's attitude towards risk. The existence of these two different cognitive biases are well documented in the experimental literature. Within this framework, we study their influence in a model of litigation where the self-serving bias of one party is private information. We show that the influence of the former is consistent with the predictions of the "optimistic approach" of trials. However, we show that the existence of risk aversion and more generally non neutrality to risk, is more dramatic in the sense that it has more unpredictable effects.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 8844.

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Date of creation: Mar 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:8844
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  1. Waldfogel, Joel, 1998. "Reconciling Asymmetric Information and Divergent Expectations Theories of Litigation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(2), pages 451-76, October.
  2. Joel Waldfogel, 1993. "The Selection Hypothesis and the Relationship between Trial and Plaintiff Victory," NBER Working Papers 4508, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Farmer, Amy & Pecorino, Paul, 1994. "Pretrial negotiations with asymmetric information on risk preferences," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 273-281, September.
  4. Ichino, Andrea & Polo, Michele & Rettore, Enrico, 2003. "Are judges biased by labor market conditions?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(5), pages 913-944, October.
  5. Linda Babcock & George Loewenstein, 1997. "Explaining Bargaining Impasse: The Role of Self-Serving Biases," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 109-126, Winter.
  6. Diecidue, Enrico & Wakker, Peter P, 2001. " On the Intuition of Rank-Dependent Utility," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 281-98, November.
  7. Lucian Arye Bebchuk, 1984. "Litigation and Settlement under Imperfect Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(3), pages 404-415, Autumn.
  8. Osborne, Evan, 1999. "Who should be worried about asymmetric information in litigation?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 399-409, September.
  9. Weber, Elke U & Kirsner, Britt, 1997. "Reasons for Rank-Dependent Utility Evaluation," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 41-61, January.
  10. Farber, Henry S & Bazerman, Max H, 1987. "Why Is There Disagreement in Bargaining?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 347-52, May.
  11. Ross, Stephen A, 1981. "Some Stronger Measures of Risk Aversion in the Small and the Large with Applications," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(3), pages 621-38, May.
  12. Tversky, Amos & Wakker, Peter, 1995. "Risk Attitudes and Decision Weights," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(6), pages 1255-80, November.
  13. Viscusi, W Kip, 2001. "Jurors, Judges, and the Mistreatment of Risk by the Courts," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(1), pages 107-42, January.
  14. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. " Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
  15. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 1994. "Settlement Negotiations with Two-Sided Asymmetric Information: Model Duality, Information Distribution and Efficiency," Game Theory and Information 9403009, EconWPA.
  16. Yaari, Menahem E, 1987. "The Dual Theory of Choice under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 95-115, January.
  17. Akerlof, George A & Dickens, William T, 1982. "The Economic Consequences of Cognitive Dissonance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 307-19, June.
  18. Katz, Avery, 1987. "Measuring the Demand for Litigation: Is the English Rule Really Cheaper?," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 143-76, Fall.
  19. Farmer, Amy & Pecorino, Paul, 2002. "Pretrial bargaining with self-serving bias and asymmetric information," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 163-176, June.
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