The Ideal of the Dispassionate Judge: An Emotion Regulation Perspective
6:2 Emotion Review 142, April 2014
10 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2015
Date Written: November 10, 2013
According to legal tradition, the ideal judge is entirely dispassionate. Affective science calls into question the legitimacy of this ideal; further, it suggests that no judge could ever meet this standard, even if it were the correct one. What judges can and should do is to learn to effectively manage — rather than eliminate — emotion. Specifically, an emotion regulation perspective suggests that (a) judicial emotion is best managed by cognitive reappraisal and, often, disclosure; (b) behavioral suppression should be used sparingly; and (c) suppression of emotional experience is rarely helpful. We argue that the dispassionate-judge ideal presents barrier to achieving the flexibility necessary for adaptive judicial emotion regulation. We suggest a new ideal, that of the emotionally well-regulated judge, and propose several directions for future research to strengthen ties between law and psychology, with particular attention to the study of emotion.
Keywords: judges, emotion, emotion regulation, law and psychology
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation