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Role Induced Bias in Court: An Experimental Analysis

31 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2010 Last revised: 17 Jan 2012

Andreas Glöckner

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods; University of Hagen

Christoph Engel

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods; University of Bonn - Faculty of Law & Economics; Universität Osnabrück - Faculty of Law

Date Written: January 2012

Abstract

Criminal procedure is organized as a tournament with predefined roles. We show that assuming the role of a defense counsel or prosecutor leads to role induced bias even if participants are asked to predict a court ruling after they have ceased to act in that role, and if they expect a substantial financial incentive for being accurate. The bias is not removed either if participants are instructed to predict the court ruling in preparation of plea bargaining. In line with parallel constraint satisfaction models for legal decision making, findings indicate that role induced bias is driven by coherence effects (Simon, 2004), that is, systematic information distortions in support of the favored option. This is mainly achieved by downplaying the importance of conflicting evidence. These distortions seem to stabilize interpretations, and people do not correct for this bias. Implications for legal procedure are briefly discussed.

Keywords: Coherence effects, Legal Decision Making, Biases, Parallel Constraint Satisfaction, Intuition

JEL Classification: C91, D81, K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Glöckner, Andreas and Engel, Christoph, Role Induced Bias in Court: An Experimental Analysis (January 2012). MPI Collective Goods Preprint, No. 2010/37. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1676142 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1676142

Andreas Glöckner

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
D-53113 Bonn, 53113
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.coll.mpg.de/team/page/andreas_gloeckner

University of Hagen ( email )

Universitaetsstr. 27
Bocholt, D-58097
Germany

Christoph Engel (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
D-53113 Bonn, 53113
Germany
+049 228 914160 (Phone)
+049 228 9141655 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.coll.mpg.de/engel.html

University of Bonn - Faculty of Law & Economics

Postfach 2220
D-53012 Bonn
Germany

Universität Osnabrück - Faculty of Law

c/o Prof. Dr. Schneider
Osnabruck, D-49069
Germany

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