Tue, May 10

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X-Jur Forum Session 2: Christoph Engel (Max Planck Institute)

What the Judge Argues is Not What the Judge Thinks Eye Tracking Evidence about the Disconnect Between Judicial Decision-Making and Judicial Reasoning

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X-Jur Forum Session 2: Christoph Engel (Max Planck Institute)

Time & Location

May 10, 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM GMT+2

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About the Event

Lawyers take it for granted that court rulings can normally not be logically derived from first principles. The case requires a willful decision by the person invested with judicial authority. The court must strike a balance between competing, conceptually incompatible normative concerns. We use a combination of behavioral and eye gaze data to investigate the mental mechanism. Without noticing the inconsistency, participants reinterpret normative arguments such that they support their decision. These reinterpretations are not reflected in the frequency or duration of fixations on the competing items presented on a decision screen. However, both explicit reinterpretations and eye gaze predict choices, with about the same accuracy. There are two independent mental effects. Eye gaze is a window into the process that makes the problem tractable, by gradually reinterpreting the arguments. Explicit reinterpretations serve a persuasive purpose. The decision-maker convinces herself, and her intended audience, that her decision is well-founded.