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Nelson Thomas E.
american journal of political science
This article examines the boundaries of motivated reasoning in legal decision making. We propose a model of attitudinal influence involving analogical perception. Attitudes influence judgments by affecting the perceived similarity between a target case and cases cited as precedent. Bias should be most apparent in judging similarity when cases are moderately similar on objective dimensions. We conducted two experiments: the first with undergraduates, the second with undergraduates and law students. Participants in each experiment read a mock newspaper article that described a “target case” involving unlawful discrimination. Embedded in the article was a description of a “source case” cited as legal precedent. Participants in both studies were more likely to find source cases with outcomes that supported their policy views in the target dispute as analogous to that litigation. Commensurate with our theory, there was evidence in both experiments that motivated perceptions were most apparent where cases were moderately similar on objective dimensions. Although there were differences in the way lay and law student participants viewed cases, legal training did not appear to attenuate motivated perceptions .
Subject(s)artificial intelligence , cognitive psychology , computer science , epistemology , image (mathematics) , law , mechanism (biology) , neuroscience , newspaper , perception , philosophy , political science , psychology , similarity (geometry) , social psychology
SCImago Journal Rank6.347
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