Is There a Psychology of Judging?
University of Virginia School of Law
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF JUDICIAL DECISION MAKING, David E. Klein and Gregory Mitchell, eds., New York: Oxford University Press, 2008
KSG Working Paper No. RWP07-049
Psychologists have recently begun to study the psychological dimensions of judging, but to date almost all of the research has been on lay experimental subjects. Implicit in the research, therefore, is that the judge's attributes as a human bring are more important than the judge's attribute's as lawyer and/or as judge in explaining judicial behavior. This may possibly be true, and it is relatively consistent with a Legal Realist understanding of judges and judging, but there remains a need for research directed specifically to the question whether judges by virtue of legal training, self-selection to judging, or judicial experience think and reason and make decisions differently from lay people. More specifically, when judges engage in tasks typically reserved to judges - finding and interpreting the relevant law, most prominently - are their cognitive processes different from those of lay people engaged in analogous tasks, and from those of lay people engaged in different and more fact-focused tasks? Until we can answer these questions based on systematic research, we will not know whether there is a psychology of judging at all, as opposed simply to general psychology applied to some of the tasks in which judges, like all other decision makers, engage.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 31
Keywords: judges, judging, psychology and law, legal reasoning, judicial reasoning, judicial decision-making
Date posted: September 21, 2007