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Generalization in Legal Argumentation

Zenker, Frank LU ; Dahlman, Christian LU ; Sikström, Sverker LU ; Wahlberg, Lena LU and Sarwar, Farhan LU (2019) In Journal of Forensic Psychology Research and Practice
Abstract

When interpreting a natural language argument that generalizes over a contextually relevant category, audiences are likely to activate the category prototype and transfer its characteristics onto category instances. A generalized argument can thus appear more (respectively less) persuasive than one mentioning a specific category instance, provided the argument’s claim is more (less) warranted for the prototype than for the instance (positive and negative prototype effect). To investigate this effect in legal contexts using mock-scenarios, professional and lay judges at Swedish courts evaluated the persuasiveness of arguments giving a generalized or a specific description of an eyewitness. The generalized version described the witness... (More)

When interpreting a natural language argument that generalizes over a contextually relevant category, audiences are likely to activate the category prototype and transfer its characteristics onto category instances. A generalized argument can thus appear more (respectively less) persuasive than one mentioning a specific category instance, provided the argument’s claim is more (less) warranted for the prototype than for the instance (positive and negative prototype effect). To investigate this effect in legal contexts using mock-scenarios, professional and lay judges at Swedish courts evaluated the persuasiveness of arguments giving a generalized or a specific description of an eyewitness. The generalized version described the witness either as an alcohol-intoxicated person or as a child, while the specific version varied both the amount of alcohol consumed (two vs. five glasses of wine) and the child’s age (four vs. 12 years). To investigate the effect of legal expertise on argument selection, moreover, law and social science students evaluate the persuasiveness of both argument versions. Though we observed statistically significant prototype effects as well as expertise effects, results were mixed and sometimes ran counter to normative expectation.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
epub
subject
keywords
Argumentation, decision-making, evidence, expertise effect, generalization, lay judge, legal context, persuasiveness, professional judge, prototype effect
in
Journal of Forensic Psychology Research and Practice
external identifiers
  • scopus:85075120122
ISSN
2473-2850
DOI
10.1080/24732850.2019.1689782
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
724cb01e-1aba-4ec0-9889-2db27807a965
date added to LUP
2019-12-04 09:53:40
date last changed
2019-12-05 02:17:05
@article{724cb01e-1aba-4ec0-9889-2db27807a965,
  abstract     = {<p>When interpreting a natural language argument that generalizes over a contextually relevant category, audiences are likely to activate the category prototype and transfer its characteristics onto category instances. A generalized argument can thus appear more (respectively less) persuasive than one mentioning a specific category instance, provided the argument’s claim is more (less) warranted for the prototype than for the instance (positive and negative prototype effect). To investigate this effect in legal contexts using mock-scenarios, professional and lay judges at Swedish courts evaluated the persuasiveness of arguments giving a generalized or a specific description of an eyewitness. The generalized version described the witness either as an alcohol-intoxicated person or as a child, while the specific version varied both the amount of alcohol consumed (two vs. five glasses of wine) and the child’s age (four vs. 12 years). To investigate the effect of legal expertise on argument selection, moreover, law and social science students evaluate the persuasiveness of both argument versions. Though we observed statistically significant prototype effects as well as expertise effects, results were mixed and sometimes ran counter to normative expectation.</p>},
  author       = {Zenker, Frank and Dahlman, Christian and Sikström, Sverker and Wahlberg, Lena and Sarwar, Farhan},
  issn         = {2473-2850},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {11},
  series       = {Journal of Forensic Psychology Research and Practice},
  title        = {Generalization in Legal Argumentation},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/24732850.2019.1689782},
  doi          = {10.1080/24732850.2019.1689782},
  year         = {2019},
}