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Be Careful What You Ask For: The Effect of Anchors on Personal Injury Damages Awards
Roselle Wissler and Mollie W. Marti
6 Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied 91 (2000)
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These studies examined the effects of anchors in the context of personal-injury damages awards. In 2 experiments, mock jurors read a case in which the presence and size of the plaintiff's damages request and the defense rebuttal were varied across conditions and then awarded damages. Award size and variability increased as the plaintiff's request increased but decreased with the most extreme request. Conversely, award size and variability decreased as the defense rebuttal decreased but increased with the most extreme rebuttal. In both studies, the award recommendations altered the upper and lower boundaries of awards mock jurors found acceptable but did not affect mock jurors' perception of injury severity. The findings suggest that award recommendations can produce biased and unpredictable awards.
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