On the role of emotions in experimental litigation contests

Gerald Eisenkopf, Tim Friehe, Ansgar Wohlschlegel

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We present experimental evidence on the influence of emotions on litigation, using a stylized litigation contest in which a potential plaintiff can make a costly effort to regain points that had been transferred to the potential defendant before. In our design, we compare data from a treatment in which any transfer of points happens only when a player decided to take points from the other one (i.e., in which takings are intentional) to data from a treatment in which transfers are initiated by chance (i.e., takings are random events). Takings that are intentional induce negative emotions (e.g., anger), but this emotional arousal does not influence litigant behavior in terms of either filing a case or spending litigation effort. Our observation is independent of litigation being a one-staged or a (possibly) two-staged contest (i.e., one with an appeal).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-94
JournalInternational Review of Law and Economics
Early online date14 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • Litigation
  • Contest
  • Emotions
  • Experiment


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