Blind or Biased? Justitia's Susceptibility to Anchoring Effects in the Courtroom Based on Given Numerical Representations

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This article presents an integrative review of recent research on anchoring effects in the courtroom as one example for the strong impact of representation norms on sentencing decisions. Anchoring effects – the assimilation of numerical judgments to a given standard – have been demonstrated in many judgmental domains. Even sentencing decisions are subject to anchoring effects. In court proceedings this gives disproportionate weight to the prosecutor, whose sentencing demand serves as an anchor. The prosecution's sentencing demand even affects defense attorneys, who assimilate their own sentencing recommendation to it. This influence seems to remain outside of defense attorneys’ awareness. Expertise does not attenuate this bias. Accordingly, defendants might be better off if defense attorneys could make their final case prior to the prosecutor's case.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of W├╝rzburg

Publication date: October 1, 2006

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