This Article reports the results of a study on whether political predispositions influence judicial decisionmaking. The study was designed to overcome the two principal limitations on existing empirical studies that purport to find such an influence: the use of nonexperimental methods to assess the decisions of actual judges; and the failure to use actual judges in ideologically-biased-reasoninge xperiments. The study involved a sample of sitting judges (n = 253), who, like members of a general public sample (n = 8oo), were culturally polarized on climate change, marijuana legalization and other contested issues. When the study subjects were assigned to analyze statutory interpretationp roblems, however, only the responses of the general-public subjects and not those of the judges varied in patterns that reflected the subjects' cultural values. The responses of a sample of lawyers (n = 217) were also uninfluenced by their cultural values; the responses of a sample of law students (n = 284), in contrast, displayed a level of cultural bias only modestly less pronounced than that observed in the general-public sample. Among the competing hypotheses tested in the study, the results most supported the position that professional judgment imparted by legal training and experience confers resistance to identityprotective cognition-a dynamic associated with politically biased information processing generally-but only for decisions that involve legal reasoning. The scholarly and practical implications of the findings are discussed.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Kahan, Dan M.; Hoffman, David; Evans, Danieli; Devins, Neal; Lucci, Eugene; and Cheng, Katherine, "'Ideology' or 'Situation Sense'? An Experimental Investigation of Motivated Reasoning and Professional Judgment" (2016). Faculty Scholarship Series. 5203.