Accountability in legal decision-making

Enide Maegherman*, Robert Horselenberg, Peter van Koppen, Karl Ask

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Having to explain a decision has often been found to have a positive effect on the quality of a decision. We aimed to determine whether different accountability requirements for judges (i.e., having to justify their decision or having to explicate their decision) affect evidence use. Those requirements were compared to instructions based on the falsification principle and a control condition. Participants (N = 173) decided on the defendant's guilt in a murder case vignette and explained their decision according to the instructions. The explication and falsification (but not the justification) instructions increased the use of exonerating evidence. There was no significant difference between the groups in guilt perception. The use of exonerating evidence was a significant positive predictor of acquittal rates. The implications for the different forms of instructions in practice are positive, but suggest a difference between the evidence considered and the evidence used to account for the decision.© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-363
JournalPsychiatry Psychology and Law
Issue number22
Early online date27 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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