Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Lucy Kenneally 

BSc [Hons] Applied Psychology

As a passionate psychology student, I am intrigued by human behaviour and cognition. My academic pursuits have fueled my desire to comprehend how individuals think, feel, and engage with others. Through coursework and hands-on learning, I have acquired diverse insights into psychological theories and research methods. My focus centers on exploring interpersonal dynamics and nurturing meaningful connections. Eager to advance my studies in human relations, I aim to delve into interpersonal dynamics, communication strategies and conflict resolution. My ultimate goal is to apply these skills to positively influence both personal and professional environments.

Project Description

The project investigated some cognitive processes involved in judicial decision-making through a Rapid Structure Literature Review (RSLR) approach. Ten papers were analyzed to explore the cognitive processes of judges. Using reflexive thematic analysis, four main themes and four sub-themes, including "Only Human," "Sense and Sensibility," and "Each to Their Own" were identified. These addressed human error, emotional versus rational decision-making and personal motivations. The project showed that external factors can shape judicial decision-making, contributing valuable insights and addressing a gap in knowledge in this area.

The Cognitive Processes Involved in Judicial Decision-Making: A RSLR

Judges and decision-making are closely intertwined. A judge's main responsibility is to deliver judgments and uphold legal principles. Despite being professional decision-makers, judges are humans and, thus, susceptible to various influences. While they are held to different standards than 'ordinary' individuals, they face similar complexities and limitations. Education and expertise are crucial for judges to navigate these challenges and deliver exceptional results. Research shows that internal and external factors can affect cognitive processing and decision-making. The RSLR examined 10 research papers with the aim of providing a concise explanation of the patterns observed in the data. It outlined the papers and summarized the research conducted in each. The central research question addressed was: "What are the cognitive processes involved in judicial decision-making?" A reflexive thematic analysis was used to derive four main themes and four sub-themes from the data. These include themes such as "Only Human" and "Sense and Sensibility," with corresponding sub-themes like "subject to human error" and "Head vs Heart."

The research acknowledged limitations due to the short timeframe, which may have impacted the inclusion of relevant literature. Nonetheless, it presents some compelling evidence that decision-making processes are influenced by external factors such as personal motivations, biases, and cognitive learning. These findings contribute to addressing the current lack of information by highlighting overarching themes that shape the decision-making process.