Intuitions about penalties and compensation in the context of tort law

Jonathan Baron*, Ilana Ritov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Students, retired judges, economists, and others made judgments of appropriate penalties and compensation for hypothetical injuries. In some scenarios, compensation was paid by the government and penalties were paid to the government, so the two could differ. Penalties were generally uninfluenced by their deterrent effect on future behavior. Penalties were greater when they were paid directly to the victim than when they were paid to the government. Compensation was affected by whether injuries were caused by people or by nature, or by acts vs. omissions. These effects are not justified according to consequentialist views of penalties and compensation. We suggest that people are overgeneralizing reasonable rules and that such overgeneralization may be involved in perverse effects of tort law.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)17-33
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Risk and Uncertainty
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • compensations
  • intuitive judgments
  • penalties
  • tort law


Dive into the research topics of 'Intuitions about penalties and compensation in the context of tort law'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this