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Stephanos Bibas on Optimism Bias - Dictionary of Arguments

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Optimism bias/Bibas/Jolls: Writing in the Harvard Law Review, Stephanos Bibas (2004)(1) identifies “optimism bias” and “loss aversion” - two key concepts in behavioral economics — as significant factors that, together with other factors, shape criminal defendants’ interaction with the criminal justice system. Bibas’s specific focus is the plea bargaining process these defendants face after being charged with a crime. “Optimism bias” refers to the tendency to believe that one’s chance of a favorable outcome is higher than it actually is (for example, Weinstein, 1980)(2).
Plea bargaining: In the context of plea bargaining by criminal defendants, Bibas suggests that such overconfidence about one’s likely outcome may be particularly
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significant because young men, who are overrepresented in the pool of criminal defendants, are especially likely to be “too optimistic [about] their chances of achieving favorable outcomes” at trial (Bibas, 2004(1), p. 2502).
Ono-omniscience: (...) although it might not be possible to ascertain whether a given individual has an unrealistic overestimate of the chance of achieving a favorable outcome (and although not every individual will necessarily display the same pattern), Bibas’s suggestion is that criminal defendants as a group exhibit optimism-based nonomniscience. >Bounded rationality/Simon, >Bounded rationality/Jolls, >Bounded rationality/Economic theories, >Loss aversion/Bibas, >Plea bargain/Bibas, >Optimism bias/Economic theories.


1. Bibas, Stephanos (2004). “Plea Bargaining Outside the Shadow of Trial.” Harvard Law Review 117: 2463–2547.
2. Weinstein, Neil D. (1980). “Unrealistic Optimism About Future Life Events.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 39: 806–820.


Jolls, Christine, „Bounded Rationality, Behavioral Economics, and the Law“. In: Parisi, Francesco (ed) (2017). The Oxford Handbook of Law and Economics. Vol 1: Methodology and Concepts. NY: Oxford University Press.


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The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Bibas, Stephanos
Parisi I
Francesco Parisi (Ed)
The Oxford Handbook of Law and Economics: Volume 1: Methodology and Concepts New York 2017


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