Assimilation to Anchors for Damage Awards in a Mock Civil Trial1


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    A portion of this research was presented at the 1993 annual meeting of the Judgment and Decision Making Society in Washington, DC. We appreciate the comments of Kevin McCaul, Rob Ployhart, Doug Davidson, and Scott Tindale on an earlier draft of this manuscript.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Verlin B. Hinsz, Department of Psychology, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND 58105–5075.


Some judicial reforms propose that limits on damage awards in civil trials will lower the amounts awarded while still maintaining perceptions of justice. This article describes research that examines the impact of damage award limits on mock juror judgments. Existing theory suggests that limits will serve as anchors for the mock jurors' j]udgments. Predictions that damage awards would move toward the anchor introduced by a limit were supported. This research suggests that depending on the location of the anchor on the response scale, limits may not have the intended effects. Instead, limits may actually increase damage awards, and may also reduce jurors' p]erceptions of fairness of the damage award judgments.