Legal Reasoning and Behaviors: The Mediating Model



In Chapter 6, we found, that an interaction between legal development level and rule-enforcing conditions explains a significant amount of the variance in legal socialization attitudes (normative status of the ruleviolating behaviors and enforcement status of the rules). Cognitive developmental theory (Levine & Tapp, 1977; Tapp & Kohlberg, 1977) and social learning theory (Akers, 1985; Akers et al., 1979; Bandura, 1969a, 1969b, 1977) offer different accounts of the nature of this interaction. Cognitive developmental theory implies that reasoning justifies future action and therefore is prior to behaviors, while social learning theory implies that reasoning is a rationalization and therefore follows behaviors. One approach to assessing the adequacy of these accounts for the purpose of explaining legal socialization is to test cognitive versus behavioral path models of the possible relationships among the central variables: legal reasoning, as measured by legal development level; attitudes toward rule enforcement (enforcement status) and rule-violating behaviors (normative status); and the frequency of engaging in rule-governed behaviors. One purpose of this chapter is to determine which model, cognitive or behavioral, best explains the relationship between legal development level and rule-following or rule-violating behaviors. Another aim is to determine whether the relationship is direct or mediated.


Social Learning Theory Legal Reasoning Legal Development External Authority Disorderly Behavior 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA

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