The Situationist

The Situation of Judicial Cognition and Motivation – Abstract

Posted by The Situationist Staff on May 29, 2009

Justice ScalesJennifer Robbennolt, Robert MacCoun, and [Situationist contributor] John M. Darley, posted their excellent paper, “Multiple Constraint Satisfaction in Judging,” on SSRN.  Here’s the abstract.

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Different models of judicial decision making highlight particular goals. Traditional legal theory posits that in making decisions judges strive to reach the correct legal decision as dictated by precedent. Attitudinal and strategic models focus on the ways in which judges further their preferred policies. The managerial model emphasizes the increasing caseload pressures that judges at all levels face. Each model accurately captures some of what every judge does some of the time, but a sophisticated understanding of judicial decision making should explicitly incorporate the notion that judges simultaneously attempt to further numerous, disparate, and often conflicting, objectives. We offer a preliminary account of a more psychologically plausible account of judicial cognition and motivation, based on principles of goal management in a constraint satisfaction network.

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For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “John Darley on “Justice as Intuitions” – Video,” “Why We Punish,” “The Situation of Judicial Activism,” and the links on bottom of those posts.

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