Nothing But the Truth? Experiments on Adversarial Competition, Expert Testimony, and Decision Making

50 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2008 Last revised: 22 Jul 2009

Cheryl Boudreau

University of California, Davis

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University

Date Written: 2008

Abstract

Many scholars debate whether a competition between experts in legal, political, or economic contexts elicits truthful information and, in turn, enables people to make informed decisions. Thus, we analyze experimentally the conditions under which competition between experts induces the experts to make truthful statements and enables jurors listening to these statements to improve their decisions. Our results demonstrate that, contrary to game theoretic predictions and contrary to critics of our adversarial legal system, competition induces enough truth-telling to allow jurors to improve their decisions. Then, when we impose additional institutions (such as penalties for lying or the threat of verification) upon the competing experts, we observe even larger improvements in the experts’ propensity to tell the truth and in jurors’ decisions. We find similar improvements when the competing experts are permitted to exchange reasons for why their statements may be correct.

Keywords: competition, expert testimony, juror, adversarial legal system, decision making, institution, trust

JEL Classification: C90, C91, D81, D83, K00, K10, K40, K41

Suggested Citation

Boudreau, Cheryl and McCubbins, Mathew D., Nothing But the Truth? Experiments on Adversarial Competition, Expert Testimony, and Decision Making (2008). Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 5, No. 4, pp. 751-789. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1094029

Cheryl Boudreau (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

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