Quasirational models of sentencing

Mandeep K. Dhami, Ian Belton, Jane Delahunty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Cognitive continuum theory points to the middle-ground between the intuitive and analytic modes of cognition, called quasirationality. In the context of sentencing, we discuss how legal models prescribe the use of different modes of cognition. These models aim to help judges perform the cognitive balancing act required between factors indicating a more or less severe penalty for an offender. We compare sentencing in three common law jurisdictions (i.e., Australia, the US, and England and Wales). Each places a different emphasis on the use of intuition and analysis; but all are quasirational. We conclude that the most appropriate mode of cognition will likely be that which corresponds best with properties of the sentencing task. Finally, we discuss the implications of this cognition-task correspondence approach for researchers and legal policy-makers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-247
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Issue number3
Early online date2014
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015


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