Cognitive science in the courtroom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is extensive evidence from cognitive science that the judgments of individuals, whether legal experts like judges or the laypeople who constitute juries, are predictably unreliable under many circumstances. We have retributive impulses that may distort our judgments; we are over-impressed by eyewitness testimony and by recollection, given how faulty each source of evidence often is; we attribute intentions to agents based on irrelevant considerations, and so on. Since these biases ensure that we make predictable mistakes, it is incumbent on the law to take them into account. In this paper, I review the evidence for these distortions and suggest possible responses. Subjective evidence should be replaced, where possible, with objective; factors (like race) known to mitigate the harshness of judgments should be regarded instead as mitigating factors to compensate, and we should investigate the possibility of using statistical rules to replace individual judgment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-182
Number of pages14
JournalAnatomia do crime : revista de ciencias juridico-criminais
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • neurolaw
  • judgement
  • bias
  • testimony
  • memory


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