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'Ideology in' vs. 'Cultural Cognition of' Law: What Difference Does it Make?

11 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2008 Last revised: 16 Apr 2013

Dan M. Kahan

Yale University - Law School

Date Written: March 20, 2008


Recent scholarship in law and political science identifies ideology as a major determinant of judicial decisionmaking. This essay suggests the possibility that much if not all the evidence this work rests on might be attributed to the influence of cultural cognition, a set of mechanisms that motivate individuals to conform their factual perceptions to their values. Such an account has the potential to furnish a psychologically richer description of how competing values generate judicial dissensus, a more informed normative appraisal of such dissensus, and a more tractable set of prescriptions for reducing it.

Keywords: cultural cognition, ideology, judicial decisionmaking

Suggested Citation

Kahan, Dan M., 'Ideology in' vs. 'Cultural Cognition of' Law: What Difference Does it Make? (March 20, 2008). Harvard Law School Program on Risk Regulation Research Paper No. 08-22; Yale Law School, Public Law Working Paper No. 180. Available at SSRN: or

Dan M. Kahan (Contact Author)

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States


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