Abstract principles and concrete cases in intuitive lawmaking

Ira Mark Ellman, Sanford L. Braver, Robert J. MacCoun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations

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 et al., Q J Econ 118(1):73-105, 2003) in those support judgments, noted in an earlier study (Ellman, Braver, & 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-108
Number of pages13
JournalLaw and Human Behavior
Volume36
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2012

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Keywords

  • child support
  • decision-making
  • family law
  • judgments
  • moral intuition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law

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