Snap Judgment: Implicit Perceptions of a (Political) Court

Hansford TG, Intawan C, Nicholson SP. Snap Judgment: Implicit Perceptions of a (Political) Court. Political Behavior. 2018;40(1):127-147.
Copy at


Do people fundamentally perceive the Supreme Court as a political institution? Despite the central importance of this question to theories of public evaluations of the Court and its decisions, it remains largely unanswered. To this end, we develop a new, implicit measure of political perceptions of the Court. This new measure relies on a categorization task wherein respondents quickly associate political or non-political attributes with the Supreme Court relative to institutions that are high or low in politicization. We find that the public implicitly perceives the Court as less political than Congress (high politicization) and more political than traffic court (low politicization) and that this measure is distinct from self-reported (explicit) perceptions of politicization. Finally, we find that implicit perceptions have a distinct effect on predicting diffuse support for the court and specific support for one of two Court decisions.
Last updated on 07/18/2022