Lawyer and Nonlawyer Susceptibility to Framing Effects in Out‐Of‐Court Civil Litigation Settlement

23 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2014

See all articles by Ian K. Belton

Ian K. Belton

Middlesex University

Mary E. Thomson

Glasgow Caledonian University

Mandeep K. Dhami

Middlesex University

Date Written: September 2014

Abstract

Settling a legal dispute out of court is typically a good result for both parties. However, many disputes do not settle: the presence of cognitive biases, such as those observed through framing manipulations, is thought to be one of the many reasons for settlement failure. The present study used quantitative and qualitative data to compare the impact of a gain‐ or loss‐framed hypothetical civil litigation scenario on settlement decisions made by lawyers and other nonlawyer professionals. A significant effect of framing was found for both groups. As predicted, both nonlawyers and lawyers were much more likely to settle their claim in the gain scenario than in the loss scenario. This finding was supported by the qualitative data: risk‐averse comments were more frequent in the gain frame whereas risk‐seeking statements were more common in the loss frame. There was also evidence that lawyers may be less affected by framing than nonlawyers, although a smaller difference was observed than in previous studies. In addition, lawyers were more likely than nonlawyers to consider the expected financial value of the litigation in making their decision. We discuss the implications of these results and suggest avenues for future research.

Suggested Citation

Belton, Ian K. and Thomson, Mary E. and Dhami, Mandeep K., Lawyer and Nonlawyer Susceptibility to Framing Effects in Out‐Of‐Court Civil Litigation Settlement (September 2014). Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 11, Issue 3, pp. 578-600, 2014, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2472229 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jels.12050

Ian K. Belton (Contact Author)

Middlesex University ( email )

The Burroughs
London, NW4 4BT
United Kingdom

Mary E. Thomson

Glasgow Caledonian University ( email )

City Campus
Cowcaddens Road
Glasgow G4 0BA, Scotland
United Kingdom

Mandeep K. Dhami

Middlesex University ( email )

The Burroughs
London, NW4 4BT
United Kingdom

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