Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

May 2006


Published in Law and Human Behavior 30 (2006), pp. 231–248. Copyright © 2006 American Psychology- Law Society/Division 41 of the American Psychological Association; published by Springer Verlag. Used by permission.


This paper draws on research in social and cognitive psychology to show how theories of judgment and decision making that incorporate decision makers’ affective responses apply to legal contexts. It takes 2 widely used models of decision making, the rational actor and lens models, and illustrates their utility for understanding legal judgments by using them to interpret research findings on juror decision making, people’s obedience to the law (e.g., paying taxes), and eyewitness memory. The paper concludes with a discussion of the advantages of modifying existing approaches to information processing to include the influence of affect on how legal actors reach judgments about law and legal process.