This paper compares beliefs about whiplash injury between individuals in simulated compensation/no compensation scenarios and actual litigant claimants. Comparisons between simulators and the clinical sample revealed that chronic patients reported significantly more symptoms than all simulator groups. The beliefs of the real compensation claimants in the acute phase of the condition were similar to those in the ‘injury only’ simulator group. The analyses identified a trend towards beliefs in the expected timeline of the illness becoming more negative with time, whilst feelings of control over the symptoms improve. The paper discusses indicators of malingering behavior and the possible involvement of litigation and treatment processes in the transition to a chronic state of ill health.