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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 164794 Find in a Library
Title: Determinations of Negligence and the Hindsight Bias
Journal: Law and Human Behavior  Volume:20  Issue:5  Dated:(October 1996)  Pages:501-516
Author(s): S J LaBine; G LaBine
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 16
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The "Tarasoff" decision states that when a therapist determines that a patient may be dangerous, the therapist has a duty to take steps to protect the potential victims; this study examines the hindsight bias in determinations of negligence in Tarasoff-type cases.
Abstract: The sample of 297 community residents was asked to read clinical case scenarios that involved the treatment of potentially dangerous patients. Scenarios varied by outcome: the patient became violent, the patient did not become violent, and no outcome was specified. Respondents rated the foreseeability of violence, the reasonableness of therapist actions, and negligence. The study hypothesized that respondents who were informed that the patient became violent would be more likely to find the therapist negligent than respondents in the other two outcome conditions. Findings supported this hypothesis, and respondents in the violent-outcome condition rated the violence as more foreseeable and therapist actions as less reasonable. These findings are consistent with estimates made by Christensen- Szalanski and Willham (1991) that as many as 18-27 percent of observers may change their decision (e.g., from not negligent to negligent) when they know that an event has occurred and the evaluative task is unfamiliar to them. Most jurors are not familiar with professional standards that constitute reasonable care, legal precedents that involve the Tarasoff ruling, and legal definitions of negligence. 33 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Civil proceedings; Jury decisionmaking; Legal liability; Psychologists; Violent offenders
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