By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm -
This blog frequently covers recent psychological or communications research bearing on legal persuasion, and an important question is how well results hold up when leaving the laboratory and entering the courtroom. One example is the phenomenon of damage "anchoring," or the advantage gained when one side offers an ad damnum number as a starting point for jury deliberations. In a long line of studies in laboratory settings, researchers have demonstrated the process of "anchor and adjust," meaning mock jurors will start with an anchor point, often a number recommended by one party or the other, and adjust up or down in order to arrive at a verdict. Based on the amount of influence exerted by the choice of the starting anchor, the common wisdom is for plaintiffs to ask high to raise the ultimate damages, and for defendants to recommend low in order to lower that number.