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Law and Psychology
University of Illinois School of Law
Bilz, Kenworthey Jennifer

 
Bilz, Psychology and the law, Fall 2013
 
 
·         Clinical Psychology- Goal is to heal. Find dysfunction and fix it.
o   Cognitive and social psychologists- What to know who normal people work. Empirical testing.
·         Three Theorists:
o   Classical Law Economics (conventional)
§  Humans are rational.
§  Humans value the maximization of utility (single unitary function)
o   Behavioral Law Economist
§  People are irrational (mistakes are random)
§  Humans value the maximization of utility
o   Expressive Law Economist
§  People are rational
§  Human have plural values (no single unitary function)
·         Muller v. Oregon (bakers and working hours)
o   Real world empirical data was cited. Problems:
§  Making arguments in legal terms obscures normative values
§  “General” Knowledge
§  Institutional competence (judges, adversary system)
·         Brown v. Board of Education (different from Muller)
o   Martian coming to earth. He/She would need social science to find out why they are unequal
o   Trial Level- Barbie experiment
o   Researchers might be cherry picking research
·         Roper v. Simmons- Death sentence to juvenile?
o   Reifies the differences (lack maturity, easily influenced) and therefore it translates into a legal conclusion, which is slight of hand. Making normative conclusions.
·         Limits of Social Science and the Law
o   Legal academics are not institutional competent to conduct this research
o   Cherry picking evidence for cases
o   Couching contestable beliefs as if they are facts
o   Normative question: What should we do?
·         Value of Empiricism (John McGinnis)
o   Theory 1: Politics are less contentious (less fistfights). McGinnis: stats are more convincing to people and make us agree.
§  Problem:1  Assumption: computers and training in research methods will make us agree. (Many empiricists have different research methods)
§  Problem 2: He characterizes the question to get a specific answer (do you like safety)
·         Does the death penalty deter?  
o   Debate started in the 60s and no one agrees till this day
o   Take race out of the equation and determine it based on priors.
o   Regression analysis is a statistical process for estimating the relationships among variables
o   Looked at cases from US. Want only cases from the same state.
·         Attacking a Regression Analysis (SAW, NES, CU)
o   Sample (relevance). You need to have a theory attached to it.
§  Sample size
§  Type: is the population different than the one you want?
o   Correlation does not mean causation
§  Fix the problem by doing a controlled experiment
o   Unknown third variable may exist
o   Why certain variables were chosen and others left out (cherry picking)
o   Statistical Significance (how real is it)
§  Significance of the findings and the effects side
§  Significance reveals whether an effect is real (coefficients)
§  It can either be real or fake. If the number drops, it is still significant
o   Effect size
§  How big is the effect (death penalty, etc.)
o   Noise (when subjects come in, they are noisy)
§  Need many cases for noisy data
§  Captured by error term
§  Noise consist of errors that are not predictable with the information you have (they are random).
o   Are you measuring what you say you’re measuring?
·         What is an experiment?
o   Experimenter manipulates the independent value.
o   Big regression analysis (10,000 people)
o   If it is real, you will eventually find it (more impressive with 40 people, because you easily found it without big numbers)
·         Underlying assumptions of Economists
o   Conventional Law Economists
§  Law of supply and demand (makes items more or less expensive.
§  A rational actor doesn’t care who or how offer is made
§  Utility function is a single metric
·         Expected utility function- how much it is valued to the likelihood of how its going to come about
§  Marginal utility- Utility curve for any good isn’t straight
·         Discount rate example (1 dollar off is the same across the board)
§  Human is a rationalizer and wants to maximize
o   Objections to CLE
§  People are bad with math. Criminal not thinking about the numbers
§  Assume people are selfish (helping others may be part of the utility)
§  Right objections- The freer you are, the less distinctive economics become as a discipline
§  The more you add in (in utility), the harder you can predict people’s behavior.
·         First instinct is to say “add it to utility curve,” its

value the extrinsic good that the extrinsic good affects (wearing ugly bracelet because it represents us)
o   Rationality is measured by asking. “Are their actions expressing their values,” instead of whether it is maximizing the utility.
o   You look back and intentions
o   Expressivist theories are backward looking. Other core features:
§  Cannot just enrich utility curve
·         Regret
o   CLE- No place in rational thought (useless)
o   Expressive- It has a place because we have multiple values that cannot all be expressed at the same time
·         Which explains people’s values? (Depends on situation)
o   When the benefits are obvious, personal, and immediately, sizeable, then conventional economists have a better argument. (Evaluating policies, employment decisions)
o   Danger: for both, it becomes untestable if you over enrich the utility curve.
·         Who is right in regards to why people support or oppose gay sodomy laws?
o   Hardwick- law is okay for arrest. Took a conventional approach
o   Lawrence- Reversed Hardwick. Took an expressivist approach
·         Why do we commit crimes?
o   CLE- Assume people obey because of the consequences
o   BLE- Whenever we do something out of the ordinary, you think somebody is watching you.
o   Grogger- Portion of population does react to incentives, which effects if people commit crimes.
·         Why do we obey?
o   Authoritism (impulse)- we are hard wired. Impulse to obey.
o   Milgram- Why do people obey Hitler? Electroshock case
§  DV is level of obedience. IV (has to be comparable) are the teachers/learners
§  Worst experiment. It can’t be revealing unless your comparing it to something.
§  Questioning experiments: You say the problem is generalizability. What about the real world? Nazis would get killed if they did not comply.