Apology and Psychology

Apologies and Reasonableness: Some Implications of Psychology for Torts

One does not need to think long about the range of situations that are addressed by tort law to realize that tort law implicates any number of questions about human behavior and decision making. Some of these questions focus on tort doctrine; others center on how tort lawsuits are brought, handled, and ultimately resolved. As a “hub science” with a particular focus on human behavior, psychology has much to offer that is useful for understanding these questions. Some psychological findings-primarily the literature on heuristics and biases-have already made their way into discussions of tort law and are taken into account with increasing frequency. Links between tort questions and other areas of psychology have not been as carefully developed. This Article, highlights just two examples of the ways in which psychological research has informed our understanding of tort law and practice: research on the role of apologies in civil cases and research that has complicated our understanding of the “reasonable person” in tort.


Jennifer K. Robbennolt, Apologies and Reasonableness: Some Implications of Psychology for Torts, 59 DePaul L. Rev. 489 (2010).

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