Prosecutors wield tremendous power, which is kept in check by a set of unique ethical obligations. In explaining why prosecutors sometimes fail to honor these multiple and arguably divergent obligations, scholars tend to fall into two schools of thought.
The first school focuses upon institutional incentives that promote abuses of power. These scholars implicitly treat the prosecutor as a rational actor who decides whether to comply with a rule based on an assessment of the expected costs and benefits of doing so.
The second school focuses upon bounded human rationality, drawing on the teachings of cognitive science to argue that prosecutors transgress not because of sinister motives, but because they labor under the same cognitive limitations that all humans do.
… Research on the psychological effects of accountability demonstrates that when people are judged primarily for their ability to persuade others of their position, they are susceptible to defensive bolstering at the expense of objectivity.
With these thoughts from A Situationist View of Criminal Prosecutors in mind, we turn to The Situation of False Confessions: Continue reading “Why do people confess to crimes they didn’t commit? (a repost from SLABBED archives)”
If you’ve wondered why there are differing perspectives about the factual basis of litigation, find the cord to your parachute and open your mind to Harvard Law’s Project on Law and Mind Sciences and situationism.
Situationism is premised on the social scientific insight that the naïve psychology—that is, the highly simplified, affirming, and widely held model for understanding human thinking and behavior—on which our laws and institutions are based is largely wrong. Situationists (including critical realists, behavioral realists, and related neo-realists) seek first to establish a view of the human animal that is as realistic as possible before turning to legal theory or policy. To do so, situationists rely on the insights of scientific disciplines devoted to understanding how humans make sense of their world—including social psychology, social cognition, cognitive neuroscience, and related disciplines…
SLABBED reflects a situationist perspective and even touches on the subject in posts such as:
Recommended holiday (half-time) reading includes the blog post, On the Ethical Obligations of Lawyers: Are We Snakes? Are We Supposed to Be?, and the following readings from Continue reading “A mind is like a parachute. If it doesn’t open, you’re f#@%*d!”