The Law and Psychology of Precedent



The literature relating law and psychology places significant emphasis on conceptual and paradigmatic differences (Haney, 1980; Lochner, 1973; Marshall, 1966; Monahan & Loftus, 1982; Tapp, 1976). Divergent methods, reasoning, and decision making underscore allegations of disciplinary incompatibility (cf. Melton, 1987; Monahan & Walker, 1988). A prime example of this incompatibility, it has been argued, may be found in psychology’s devotion to the scientific method in explanation and the law’s reliance on precedent in judicial decision making. Psychology emphasizes creative and innovative research, unhampered by the constraints imposed by precedent and history. As Haney (1980) has observed, in psychology “there is no conscious and constant attempt to link the present to the past.


Normal Science Judicial Decision Psychological Explanation Legal Duty Prior Decision 
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