The More You Ask For, the More You Get: Anchoring in Personal Injury Verdicts

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Abstract

The ‘anchoring and adjustment’ bias was demonstrated in a personal injury case using mock jurors. In Experiment 1, the ad damnum, or requested compensation, was manipulated across participants. In Experiment 2, anchors were operationalized as the strength of the legal evidence. Both monetary and causal anchors systematically influenced judgments of the probability that the defendant caused the plaintiff's injuries, compensation awarded, and perceptions of the litigants. These results indicate that anchoring occurs in legal applications, and that plaintiffs would do well to request large compensation awards. In addition, anchors expressed on one scale affected judgments expressed on another scale. This cross-modality anchoring stands in contrast to previous studies. Finally, these anchoring effects are unlikely to be explained by either demand effects or perceived relevance of the anchor.

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