The Psychology of the Supreme Court / Edition 1

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With the media spotlight on the recent developments concerning the Supreme Court, more and more people have become increasingly interested in the highest court in the land. Who are the justices that run it and how do they make their decisions?

The Psychology of the Supreme Court by Lawrence S. Wrightsman is the first book to thoroughly examine the psychology of Supreme Court decision-making. Dr. Wrightsman's book seeks to help us understand all aspects of the Supreme Court's functioning from a psychological perspective. This timely and comprehensive work addresses many factors of influence including, the background of the justices, how they are nominated and appointed, the role of their law clerks, the power of the Chief Justice, and the day-to-day life in the Court. Dr. Wrightsman uses psychological concepts and research findings from the social sciences to examine the steps of the decision-making process, as well as the ways in which the justices seek to remain collegial in the face of conflict and the degree of predictability in their votes.

Psychologists and scholars, as well as those of us seeking to unravel the mystery of The Supreme Court of the United States will find this book to be an eye-opening read.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book is a one-of-a-kind treat for social scientists, legal scholars, and interested lay people. By drawing on an array of empirical data sources, Professor Wrightsman has offered an insightful and provocative analysis of decision making in the U.S. Supreme Court-the "least understood branch."— Saul Kassin, Massachusetts Professor of Psychology, Williams College

"Lawrence Wrightsman has written a stunningly useful book about the way the Supreme Court worksThis book should be ready not only by lawyers and social scientists, but by anyone who wants to be informed about how judges carry out their duties to interpret and make law. It is the only work that combines insights from psychological, political, and legal sources in studying the institution that some say is the true "sovereign" of the United States."— Christopher Slobogin, Stephen C. O'Connell Professor of Law, University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law

"In The Psychology of the Supreme Court, Larry Wrightsman has succeeded in discovering and explaining how the entire institution of the Supreme Court ticks - its personal dynamics, its decision-making process, its foibles and its idiosyncrasies. He has given us a fresh and vitally important perspective on the inner workings of the nation's highest court - and on the nine humans who are its justices."— Tony Mauro, Supreme Court Correspondent, Legal Times, American Lawyer Media, and Law

"In the wake of the controversial nomination of Harriet Miers, confirmation hearings for new Justices, the Terri Shiavo case, and the lingering effects of Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court has captured the public's attention as never before. Just in time, Professor Lawrence Wrightsman provides a fascinating account of how nine opinionated experts with clashing perspectives apparently work together behind closed portals. His social science-based explanations of the Court's decision making tell a compelling story, and his readable style brings to life even the most complex set of facts and decisions."— Edie Greene, Co-author of Determining Damages: The Psychology of Jury Awards, Co-author of Psychology and the Legal System

"In light of the recent turnover and media hype surrounding the Supreme Court, Wrightsman's book could not be timelier. This scholarly analysis by the dean of psychology and law researchers examines the predictability of justices' voting patterns, offers insightful profiles of individual justices, and is chock full of useful information on everything from the nomination and confirmation processes, to how the Court selects and decides cases. It will appeal to anyone interested in how these nine individuals reach the decisions that profoundly influence all of our lives."— Brian H. Bornstein, Professor of Psychology and Law, University of Nebraska

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195306040
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 3/16/2006
  • Series: American Psychology-Law Society Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

University of Kansas
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Table of Contents

1. The Supreme Court: The Least Understood Branch
2. The Selective Nature of Supreme Court Justices
3. Steps in the Decision-Making Process
4. Day to Day in the Life of the Court
5. A Psychological Analysis of Decision Formation
6. The Rational-Choice Model in Judicial Decision Making
7. The Bush v. Gore Decision
8. How Individual Justices Affect Decisions
9. The Chief Justice: More Influential than Other Justices?
10. Can the Court's Decisions Be Predicted?
11. Evaluating the Process
Author Index
Subject Index

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