Linguistic Complexity, Information Processing, and Public Acceptance of Supreme Court Decisions


Scholars suggest that judges have an incentive to use complex language to increase support for their decisions. Research on the effects of processing fluency, however, points towards a different set of expectations. Using a survey experiment, we manipulate the complexity of the language conveying two Court decisions and two types of source cue. For the less polarizing of the two decisions, we find that by decreasing processing fluency, complex decision language can both decrease acceptance of the decision and diminish the importance of source cues in arriving at this judgment. Legalistic terminology, however, increases acceptance.
Last updated on 07/18/2022