Escalating the Commitment

Escalation of commitment is the tendency to invest additional resources in an apparently losing investment, influenced by effort, money and time already invested. If the costs outweigh the benefits, the extra costs incurred are held in a different mental account than the one associated with the first investment. To visualize this fallacy let us use…

How much are you willing to pay for a dollar?

Imagine an auction for a dollar and the person with the highest bid gets the dollar. However, not only the person with the highest bid must pay the price, also the person with the second highest bid must make a payment. The auction starts at one cent and you will see the price increasing up…

Nudge News: Rational Decision-Making in the Era of Social Bots

In the light of the German federal election approaching we decided to repost this thought provoking article. Learn how social bots influence your rational decision-making – and if you are one of our many German followers, this might be especially interesting for you. Building on our previous posts on artificial intelligence, this week’s publication will have…

All you need to know on the Hindsight Bias

A few months ago, I published a #30in30 regarding the hindsight bias. As I promised, during this essay, I will give you more information on the impacts on the legal profession as well as on debiasing this classic behavioral bias. This article will be a thorough introduction. Hence, there is no need to read the…

#30in30 – Hot to Cold or Cold to Hot?

People generally underestimate how their body (or more precisely: their visceral drives, including hunger, thirst, drug cravings, physical pain and mere emotions) is influencing their behavior and decision-making. The legal profession is prone to this bias as much as anyone, as we will discover in the following. While workings of this bias within our private…

#30in30 – Two Bags of Marbles

You are presented two bags. One contains 700 red chips and 300 blue chips, while the other one is opposite with 700 blue chips and 300 red ones. You are given the choice between the bags. Take one and begin to sample with replacement. In twelve samples, you get 8 reds and 4 blues. What…

#30in30 – Use their Mood to win the Game

(Reading time: 3 min read)

Long before starting to study brain behavior and beginning to understand a little bit about how we make certain decisions, I – as a litigation lawyer – had to try to convince judges to rule according to my client’s claim. To reach my objectives, of course I did my part of the job: I understood the case, went through the documents, made all the legal research, and tried to write the facts in a clear and coherent way. As much as I believed in the case, however, I could never know for sure what to expect from another human’s mind. That is why my lucky amulet and my special prayer for a “judge’s good mood” were always there before a hearing or the submission of an important motion.

#30in30 – Good Mood – Better Decisions

(Reading time: 3 min read)

The “mood congruency effect” is not limited to your thoughts or memories, but it can also affect the types of decisions you make. According to Mayer, Gaschke, Braverman, and Evans (1992) who coined the term “mood congruency in judgments”, happy people are more likely than sad people to expect nice weather for a picnic, because nice weather is congruent with their pleasant mood.As lawyers, it is of extreme importance to be aware of the effect that mood has on decision making. This awareness ….

#30in30 – Why Everyone Thinks he’s Smarter than You

(Reading time: 2 min read)

The next time you hear the words “Had you asked me, I could have told you that would happen” you will remember: There is no rational reason to be annoyed. Our brains cannot help but think this way: Tricked by the Hindsight Bias, people tend to rate the likelihood of events higher when already knowing the actual outcome.
What is annoying in our everyday lives can turn hazardous when giving legal advice to your clients. Moreover, both judges and juries are likely to be misguided into applying a much higher standard of proof – especially in cases involving unresolved questions of negligence.

#30in30 – What you see is what you get

(Reading time: 2 min read)

The context Effect relates to how our brain processes the information we perceive in our environment. It describes how when we are confronted with environmental influences we often include them subliminally in our decision making.

Applied to the process of jurisdiction the Context Effect affects juries and judges because in each of them the finder of the…