East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

May 21 Workshop


“What Make a Judicial Decision Convincing:

Experimental Evidence of Authority, Bias and Reasoning” 



Zhuang Liu

LLM Candidate, University of Chicago Law School

PhD Candidate, Peking University Law School



4:30-6pm, Tuesday

May 21, 2013

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.



The dearth of convincing power in judicial decision and reasoning, especially in those eye-catching cases reported by public media (e.g. the cases of Xu Ting, Liu Yong, Wu Ying, Peng Yu) undermines the creditability and legitimacy of Chinese judiciary. Legal community in China has been aware of the problem for a long time. Judicial reform aimed at “establishing a judiciary system that people are satisfied with” has been carried on continuously since 1990s. Improving the reasoning in judicial decision is one of the therapies. Fifteen years ago, in the first “Outline of Judicial Reform” by Supreme People’s Court, the emphasis has already been pinned down on “improving the quality of judicial decision writing”, “providing more detailed and persuasive reasoning” and “make the reasoning of decision become vivid textbook that illustrates the impartial image of judiciary and that educates people how the law operates”.

Drawing on social science perspectives and legal theory, this paper provides a theoretical framework to and tests empirically the question of what make a judicial decision convincing to the general public in the context of China. I employ a psychological experiment and OLS regression to see how several crucial factors, as suggested by different theories, influence people’s evaluation of judicial decisions. To wit, theories suggest that the convincing power of a judicial decision depends on reasoning modes, preexisting attitude (bias and motive reasoning effect) and to what extent people trust the authority (sociology of knowledge or information economics).


PS: The experiment is carried out on an online questionnaire system. Participants to the workshop are welcomed to finish the questionnaire at http://www.sojump.com/jq/2233957.aspx.



Workshop website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia/

Student coordinator: Le Lin (lelin2010@uchicago.edu)

Faculty sponsors: Dali Yang, Dingxin Zhao and Zheng Michael Song

This presentation is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences and Center for East Asian Studies. Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance please contact the student coordinator in advance.

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