Jan Hurych
Author’s affiliation: Faculty of Law, Charles University

Anchoring heuristic in legal decision making: Is it time for psychological intervention?

Jurisprudence 5/2019 Section: Articles Page: 40–47

Keywords: právní rozhodování, heuristika kotvy, kognitivní iluze, právní vzdělávání

Abstract: Anchoring heuristic is one of the most important and most researched cognitive illusions. Its robust effect has been repeatedly proved. It biases the estimation/decision by mere exposure to previous information – an anchor. But does it work the same way in legal decision making? Available research points to the conclusion that yes, it does – it appears to increase the risk of biased decision especially in cases where the decision is a numeral. However, it can bias even decisions that are not expressed in that way. This heuristic can be a significant threat to several core law principles. The specific research into law decision making and anchoring, however, has not yet advanced enough to produce reliable and concrete countermeasures. Nevertheless, considering the overall findings across many fields, it is high time to open the field of law to more sophisticated psychological research in order to produce such countermeasures.