Cognitive fluency in the courtroom

Authored by: Eryn Newman , Madeline Jalbert , Neal Feigenson

The Routledge International Handbook of Legal and Investigative Psychology

Print publication date:  October  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9780367345570
eBook ISBN: 9780429326530
Adobe ISBN:


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When we assess evidence, arguments, and people, we often draw on feelings rather than facts. In this chapter, we describe cognitive fluency—a metacognitive input that shapes forensically relevant judgments such as truth, credibility, and trust. While the legal system strives to keep forensically relevant judgments as accurate and unbiased as possible, the cognitive and social psychological literatures show that changes in the ease of processing information can systematically bias people’s judgments. We explore the consequences for judgments of truth, memory, source credibility, and perceived coherence and consider how cognitive fluency may influence, bias, and distort judge and juror decision making and forensic science communication more generally.

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