Emotional evidence in court

Hannah J. Phalen, Jessica M. Salerno, Janice Nadler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Scopus citations


Judges frequently instruct jurors to decide cases based on evidence, rather than emotion. Emotion is often viewed as, at best extraneous to legal decision-making, and at worst detrimental to legal decision-making. This chapter takes a more nuanced approach to describing the impact of emotional evidence on jury decision-making. We review current experimental methodologies and the resulting research findings regarding jurors’ emotional reaction to evidence, to extralegal factors, and to the resulting impact on decision-making. We also examine the impact of individual differences in jurors’ emotionality and the impact of other legal actors’ emotion expression on their decisions. Through these various lines of research, we suggest ways in which psychological science can investigate how emotions can affect jurors’ decision-making processes, in order to develop a more extensive model of the role that emotions play in legal decision-making. Finally, we conclude with a discussion of the future directions in emotional evidence research, with the hope that this research can be used to provide a fuller picture of emotion in the legal system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on Law and Emotion
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781788119085
ISBN (Print)9781788119078
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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