Second Thoughts

45 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2008

See all articles by Gregory Mitchell

Gregory Mitchell

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: October 20, 2008


Biases in judgment and decision-making often arise at the level of first-order thoughts. If these initial thoughts are not overridden by second-order thoughts, they may lead to biased outputs. Current psychological models of legal actors assume that individuals are largely incapable of overcoming these first-order biasing thoughts and that these thoughts consequently lead to irrational and discriminatory behaviors. These models ignore considerable evidence that individuals often naturally engage in self-correction and that situational pressures often encourage self-correction. I discuss the conditions under which self-correction may occur and the possibilities and limits for the law in promoting self-correction to overcome biased judgments, decisions, and behavior.

Keywords: Implicit Bias, Metacognition, Rationality, Behavioral Law and Economics, Antidiscrimination Law

Suggested Citation

Mitchell, Gregory, Second Thoughts (October 20, 2008). McGeorge Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Gregory Mitchell (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
434-243-4088 (Phone)

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