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Working paper

Playing against an Apparent Opponent: Incentives for Care, Litigation, and Damage Caps under Self-Serving Bias

Landeo C. M., Nikitin M., Ижмалков С.
This paper presents a strategic model of incentives for care and litigation under asymmetric informa- tion and self-serving bias, and studies the effects of damage caps. We contribute to the behavioral economics literature by generalizing the perfect Bayesian equilibrium concept to environments with biased litigants. Our main findings are as follows. First, our results suggest that self-serving bias might be welfare-reducing. The negative impact of this cognitive bias on social welfare is explained by the reduction in the level of care, and the increase in the likelihood of disputes. We also find that self-serving bias helps litigants commit to tough negotiation positions. However, it is economically self-defeating for the informed plaintiff. Second, our findings indicate that caps on non-economic damages might reduce the level of care. Importantly, we find that the positive effect of damage caps on lowering the likelihood of disputes, commonly attributed to caps, does not necessarily hold in environments with biased litigants: Caps might induce higher likelihood of disputes. Our findings are aligned with empirical and experimental evidence.