Prof. Thomas Hansford and graduate student Chelsea Coe’s paper “Linguistic Complexity, Information Processing, and Acceptance of Supreme Court Decisions” has just been published in Political Psychology. Congratulations to Prof. Hansford and Chelsea Coe!
The paper considers the consequences of linguistic complexity in court judgments on public acceptance of those decisions. The authors use a survey experiment to directly vary the complexity of the language in two Court decisions, along with a randomized partisan source cue. For the less polarizing of the two decisions, they find that linguistic complexity does decrease acceptance of the decision, but also diminishes the importance of partisan sources. At the same time, they show that legalistic terminology increases acceptance.