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Affective Forecasting and the Law: Generalization and Specificity

Saturday, May 23, 2009, 4:00 PM - 5:20 PM
Yerba Buena 4

Chair: Richard L. Wiener
University of Nebraska, Lincoln

This symposium examines the application of affective forecasting to issues in civil law, criminal law, and problems of general moral culpability. Affective forecasting effects generalized to credit disclosures in bankruptcy, punishment in capital murder, and culpability in moral transgressions, but were limited in how they influenced jurors’ civil damage awards.

Anticipated Emotion, Regulatory Fit, and Credit Disclosure in Bankruptcy Law
Michael Holtje
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Using an online simulation-purchasing task, this project demonstrated that positive affective forecasting about buying and promotion regulatory focus motivation increased purchasing but that enhanced disclosure as required under current bankruptcy law limited these effects. The paper concludes that bankruptcy regulation should embrace a modified version of the rational actor model.

Dr. Richard L. Wiener, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Affective Forecasting Bias and Excessive Pain and Suffering Damage Awards
Jay G. Hook
Harvard University School of Law
Mock jurors reviewed an accident in which a boy was paralyzed due to corporate negligence. Jurors’ sadness ratings were more extreme than were the self-ratings of actual accident victims. However, pain and suffering awards to the paralyzed boy, in a hypothetical personal injury trial were unrelated to these sadness ratings.

Affective Forecasting and Capital Murder Trials
Juan Cangas
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Participants completed forecasted and experienced emotion surveys at different stages of a reenacted capital murder trial. The greater unhappiness and unpleasantness participants expected to feel at the trial’s end, the more certain they were in sentencing the defendant to life in prison, as if avoiding a death sentence would prevent negative moods.

Leah Skovran, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Dr. Richard L. Wiener, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Obtaining Forgiveness Versus Permission: A Temporal Inconsistency in Moral Judgment
Eugene M. Caruso
University of Chicago
In a series of studies, participants judged future transgressions more extremely than equivalent transgressions in the equidistant past. The results suggest that forgiveness for past criminal transgressions maybe easier to obtain than absolution for current or future wrongdoings. More generally, the temporal framing of events can heavily influence moral reactions to ethical behavior.

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