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Shared Outrage and Erratic Awards: The Psychology of Punitive Damages

Daniel Kahneman, David Schkade and Cass Sunstein

Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 1998, vol. 16, issue 1, 49-86

Abstract: An experimental study of punitive damage awards in personal injury cases was conducted, using jury-eligible respondents. There was substantial consensus on judgments of the outrageousness of a defendant's actions and of the appropriate severity of punishment. Judgments of dollar awards made by individuals and synthetic juries were much more erratic. These results are familiar characteristics of judgments made on unbounded magnitude scales. The degree of harm suffered by the plaintiff and the size of the firm had a pronounced effect on awards. Some judgmental tasks are far easier than others for juries to perform, and reform possibilities should exploit this fact. Copyright 1998 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

Date: 1998
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