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CHOICE SHIFTS AND EXTREME BEHAVIOR - JUDICIAL REVIEW IN THE FEDERAL COURTS

NCJ Number
12134
Journal
Journal of Social Psychology Volume: 91 Dated: (DECEMBER 1973) Pages: 215-221
Author(s)
E C MAIN; T G WALKER
Date Published
1973
Length
7 pages
Annotation
CONCLUSION THAT JUDICIAL DECISION-MAKING RESULTING FROM GROUP DISCUSSION IS MORE EXTREME IN CONSEQUENCE THAN INDIVIDUAL JUDICIAL DECISION MAKING.
Abstract
RESEARCH ON THE GROUP-INDUCED CHOICE SHIFT HAS MADE TWO RECENT ADVANCES. FIRST, THERE HAS BEEN AN INITIAL INDICATION THAT GROUP-INDUCED SHIFTS MAY EXIST IN REAL WORLD DECISION-MAKING SETTINGS. AND SECOND, GROUP DISCUSSION HAS BEEN FOUND TO HAVE A POLARIZING EFFECT, MOVING MEMBERS TO TAKE MORE EXTREME POSITIONS. THE PRESENT RESEARCH WAS DESIGNED TO BUILD UPON THESE TWO RECENT ADVANCES. IN A REAL WORLD NATURAL EXPERIMENTAL SETTING, THE DECISIONS OF FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT JUDGES WERE EXAMINED. THESE DECISIONS WERE ALL IN RESPONSE TO A CHALLENGE TO THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF A STATE OR FEDERAL STATUTE OR GOVERNMENTAL POLICY. JUDGES WERE FACED WITH A CHOICE BETWEEN A CAUTIOUS ALTERNATIVE (UPHOLDING THE VALIDITY OF A STATUTE OR POLICY) AND AN EXTREME ALTERNATIVE (STRIKING DOWN THE STATUTE OR POLICY, DECLARING IT NULL AND VOID). THE DATA INDICATED THAT FEDERAL JUDGES WERE MORE LIKELY TO SELECT THE EXTREME COURSE OF ACTION AFTER PARTICIPATING IN GROUP DISCUSSION, I.E. ON A THREE JUDGE COURT PANEL, THAN WHEN FACING SIMILAR SITUATIONS INDIVIDUALLY. (AUTHOR ABSTRACT)