Decision making in legal contexts
The criminal-law process can be construed as a chain of sequential decisions. Starting with investigators’ initial assessment of crime-scene observations, and ending with judges’ and juries’ passing of a verdict, the outcome of a criminal proceeding is ultimately determined by the inferences and conclusions drawn by individual decision makers. Understanding human judgment and decision making is, thus, central to explaining and improving the criminal justice system at large. Traditionally, research in this area has predominantly focused on legal decision making by lay people (i.e., jurors, lay judges) in trial settings. Our research has broadened the scope in several regards, including studies on professional investigators’ decision making, the role of feelings in legal judgments, and the effects of modern courtroom technology on the evaluation of evidence.