Lukas Holste & Holger Spamann, Experimental Investigations of Judicial Decision-Making, in The Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Jurisprudence (Kevin P. Tobia ed., forthcoming).
Abstract: We review experimental research on judicial decision-making with a focus on methodological issues. First, we argue that only experiments with relatively high realism, in particular real judges as study subjects, plausibly generalize to judicial decision-making in the real world. Most experimental evidence shows lay subjects to behave very differently from expert judges in specifically legal tasks. Second, we argue that studying the effects of non-law is not a substitute for studying the effects of law since large unexplained residuals could be attributed to either. Direct experimental studies of the law effect are few and find it to be puzzlingly weak. Third, we review the substantive findings of experiments with judges, distinguishing between studies investigating legal and non-legal factors and paying close attention to the nature of the experimental task.