Behavioral Jurisprudence

Behavioral Jurisprudence in the United States

A jurisprudential view that features theories of human decision making. Behavioral jurisprudence attempts to explain law as emanating from the individual values of the principal official participants in the legal process. Behavioral jurisprudence had its origin among those legal realists who sought to integrate the approaches of behavioral science with the study of law and legal processes. Although judicial be- haviorists began to emerge a decade earlier, the work of C. Herman Pritchett in the 1940s is generally regarded as providing the foundation of behavioral jurisprudence. Using a quantitative methodology, Pritchett sought to explain court decisions in terms of judicial attitudes and values. Judicial behavioralism is thus an almost exclusively human-oriented approach to the examination of law. Unlike political jurisprudence, behaviorists devalue the study of legal norms as well as the political dimensions of the judicial processes.

See Also

Jurisprudence (Judicial Function) Legal Realism (Judicial Function) Political Jurisprudence (Judicial Function).

Analysis and Relevance

Behavioral jurisprudence refocused the study of public law, particularly within the discipline of political science. Like political jurisprudence, the behavioral approach represented a substantial departure from the traditional study of constitutional law and legal norms. The lines of distinction between political jurisprudents and judicial behaviorists is more difficult to establish. Even the leading behaviorists have been unable to precisely delineate behavioral and political jurisprudence as they continue to work with many of the concepts associated with the latter. Nonetheless, it is clear that the behavioral approach expanded our knowledge of judicial processes through the use of research techniques derived from such disci-plines as psychology and social psychology. Indeed, many of the findings produced through the behavioral approach are currently embraced by judicial scholars. At the same time, the general orientation of those conducting research in this area more closely resembles that of political than behavioral jurisprudence.

Notes and References

  1. Definition of Behavioral Jurisprudence from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

Behavioral Jurisprudence: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Behavioral Jurisprudence. This part provides references, in relation to Behavioral Jurisprudence, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Behavioral Jurisprudence by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Behavioral Jurisprudence and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Behavioral Jurisprudence or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Behavioral Jurisprudence and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Behavioral Jurisprudence. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Behavioral Jurisprudence should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Behavioral Jurisprudence when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

*This resource guide is updated frequently. However, if you notice something is wrong or not working, or any resources that should be added, please notify us in any of the "Leave a Comment" area.

Leave a Comment