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4 - Judicial Decision-Making

from Part I - Introduction Chapters

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 February 2024

Monica K. Miller
Affiliation:
University of Nevada, Reno
Logan A. Yelderman
Affiliation:
Prairie View A & M University, Texas
Matthew T. Huss
Affiliation:
Creighton University, Omaha
Jason A. Cantone
Affiliation:
George Mason University, Virginia
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Summary

The strength of the judiciary depends upon fair and impartial jurists who can make complex decisions while minimizing bias. This chapter provides an overview of how psychological processes can affect judicial decision-making at every stage of the judicial process, including decisions at pretrial hearings related to dispositive motions (e.g., motions to dismiss). The chapter begins with an overview of how judges might use heuristics (cognitive “shortcuts”) when making decisions, followed by discussions of how emotions, inferences, and implicit associations each can affect judicial decision-making. The chapter concludes with recommendations to expand judicial education on issues related to psychological science. For example, although many judicial education courses address implicit bias, research finds that the limited effectiveness and duration of these trainings warrant further study. Overall, we urge judicial educators to familiarize themselves with psychological research, expand course content, and offer an evidence-based educational approach that allows judges to apply lessons from psychology in their chambers and courtrooms.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024

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