Emotion and the Law

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The field of law and emotion draws from a range of disciplines in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities to shed light on the emotions that pervade the legal system. It utilizes insights from these disciplines to illuminate and assess the implicit and explicit assumptions about emotion that animate legal reasoning, legal doctrine, the behavior of legal actors, and the structure of legal institutions. In light of law's focus on influencing social norms and on structuring effective and just institutions, one development that holds enormous promise is the growing interdisciplinary interest in collective decision making and in the emotional dynamics of groups. Work in the affective sciences on how emotion and cognition interact is another rich vein for legal scholars interested in the assessment of responsibility and blame, the role of morality in law, and a host of other areas. Another important frontier is exploration of concrete solutions to the problems identified by law and emotion scholars.