Law Matters -- Less Than We Thought
40 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2019
Date Written: August 19, 2019
In a pre-registered 2×2×2 factorial between-subject randomized lab experiment with 61 federal judges, we test if the law influences judicial decisions, if it does so more under a rule than under a standard, and how its influence compares to that of legally irrelevant sympathies. The judges were given realistic materials and a relatively long period of time (50 minutes) to decide a run-of-the-mill auto accident case. We find weak evidence for the law effect, stronger evidence that rules constrain more than standards, and no evidence of a sympathy effect. Unexpectedly, we find that judges were more likely to choose the law that fully compensates an injured plaintiff.
Keywords: judicial decisionmaking, experiment, rules versus standards, choice of law, conflict of law
JEL Classification: K00, K13, K40, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation