Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznare
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ellman, Braver, & MacCoun: "Abstract Principles and Concrete Cases in Intuitive Lawmaking"

Ira Ellman (Arizona State Univ.College of Law), Sanford Braver (ASU Dept. of Psychology) & Robert MacCoun (UC Berkeley School of Law) have posted "Abstract Principles and Concrete Cases in Intuitive Lawmaking" (forthcoming Law & Human Behavior) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Citizens awaiting jury service were asked a series of items, in Likert format, to determine their endorsement of various statements about principles to use in setting child support amounts. These twenty items were derived from extant child support systems, from past literature and from Ellman and Ellman’s (2008) Theory of Child Support. The twenty items were found to coalesce into four factors (principles). There were pervasive gender differences in respondent’s endorsement of the principles. More importantly, three of these four principles were systematically reflected, in very rational (if complex) ways, in the respondents’ resolution of the individual child support cases they were asked to decide. Differences among respondents in their endorsement of these three principles accounted for differences in their patterns of child support judgments. It is suggested that the pattern of coherent arbitrariness (Ariely, Loewenstein, & Prelec, 2003) in those support judgments, noted in an earlier study (Ellman, Braver, and MacCoun 2009) is thus partially explained, in that the seeming arbitrariness of respondents’ initial support judgments reflect in part their differing views about the basic principles that should decide the cases.


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