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Cornell University Law School

Behavioral law and economics

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Full-Text Articles in Legal History

Blinking On The Bench: How Judges Decide Cases, Chris Guthrie, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Andrew J. Wistrich Nov 2007

Blinking On The Bench: How Judges Decide Cases, Chris Guthrie, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Andrew J. Wistrich

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

How do judges judge? Do they apply law to facts in a mechanical and deliberative way, as the formalists suggest they do, or do they rely on hunches and gut feelings, as the realists maintain? Debate has raged for decades, but researchers have offered little hard evidence in support of either model. Relying on empirical studies of judicial reasoning and decision making, we propose an entirely new model of judging that provides a more accurate explanation of judicial behavior. Our model accounts for the tendency of the human brain to make automatic, snap judgments, which are surprisingly accurate, but which ...


Cognitive Errors, Individual Differences, And Paternalism, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski Jan 2006

Cognitive Errors, Individual Differences, And Paternalism, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Legal scholars commonly argue that the widespread presence of cognitive errors in judgment justifies legal intervention to save people from predictable mistakes. Such arguments often fail to account for individual variation in the commission of such errors even though individual variation is probably common. If predictable groups of people avoid making the errors that others commit, then law should account for such differences because those who avoid errors will not benefit from paternalistic interventions and indeed may be harmed by them. The research on individual variation suggests three parameters that might distinguish people who can avoid error: cognitive ability, experience ...