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date: 19 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The legal system—in both substance and process—relies heavily on social cognition. However, much of the vast research in law and psychology focuses narrowly on issues of jury decision making, particularly in criminal cases. This chapter seeks to broaden that research agenda. The authors first review some of the main issues in jury research, especially those that the DNA exonerations have implicated in the false convictions of innocent people: eyewitness identification, confessions, and forensics. Second, the authors describe the multiple roles of judges, contrast them to juries, and review why judicial decision making can be described as involving implicit social cognition as part of the process of legal reasoning. Finally, the chapter illustrates how many issues of substantive law—what should count as causing harm to another person, whether intent and knowledge should matter to punishment, how people should be allowed to plan for the future in contracts and wills—all depend on assumptions about social cognition, and are all ripe for much more research.

Keywords: law, legal reasoning, law and psychology, juries, judges, judicial decision making, jury decision making

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