This chapter explores the “reasonable person” who sits at the heart of tort law and negligence. Psychology has important implications for understanding this central figure. Psychological research informs our understanding of how individuals behave in situations that generate tort liability and how the reasonableness of an actor’s behavior is assessed after the fact. The chapter explores the difficulties that decision makers have with risk assessment and risk-utility balancing, including complications caused by automaticity and limits on attention. It describes how hindsight bias and the complexities of metacognition complicate judging reasonableness after the fact. It explores the ways in which psychology can influence how tort doctrines such as custom and res ipsa loquitur are applied. And it considers how fact finders assess the reasonableness of individuals and corporate actors.
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