Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Brian H. Bornstein


Three experiments examine how expressions of probability concerning why a risk involved in a medical procedure was not disclosed influence mock juror decisions (e.g., liability, culpability, and damage awards). Across all three experiments, no differences were found in mock juror judgments of liability due to the probability expression used, be it verbal, quantitative, percentage, or frequency. Furthermore, differences in mean damage awards were only found when psychological uncertainty was manipulated using a frequency expression. However, an examination of the median damage awards suggests that some expressions of probability are likely to result in higher damage awards than others. Thus, while the type of probability expression used does not appear to influence whether or not a physician-defendant is found liable, it may have an impact on the size of the damage award. A fourth experiment examines how expressions of probability concerning a non-disclosed risk influence decisions of whether or not a patient should undergo treatment. The results of this experiment indicate that hindsight (i.e., knowledge of the complication occurring during surgery) may have played a role in the results of Experiments 1--3. Implications and recommendations for physicians and lawyers are discussed.