The Legal Process from a Behavioral Perspective

By Stuart S. Nagel | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Methods for Testing Empirical Generalizations in Legal Research

Social scientists for many years have been testing empirical generalizations in their respective disciplines.1 Some of their techniques are beginning to trickle into the legal journals at an increasing rate.2 The legal research that has thus far used such techniques, however, has largely been done by social scientists rather than by legal scholars.3 It is the purpose of this chapter to describe briefly some of the techniques involved in systematically testing empirical generalizations, in the hope that increased understanding will stimulate more law school scholars to apply them.4


The writer gratefully thanks Jerry Bonham, Deno Curris, and the other members of his Public Law Seminar of Autumn 1962 for the constructive suggestions they made concerning this chapter.

The standard textbooks on general social science methodology include W. GOODE & P. HATT, METHODS IN SOCIAL RESEARCH ( 1952); C. SELLTIZet al., RESEARCH METHODS IN SOCIAL RELATIONS ( 1959); T. MCCORMICK & R. FRANCIS, METHODS OF RESEARCH IN THE BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES ( 1958); and G. LINDZEY (ed.), HANDBOOK OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY259-561 ( 1954). These textbooks elaborate many of the points made in this paper.
See, e.g., Tanenhaus, "Supreme Court Attitudes toward Federal Administrative Agencies: Application of Social Science Methods to the Study of the Judicial Process", 14 VAND. L. REV.473 ( 1961); Zeisel, Kalven, & Bucholz, "Is the Trial Bar a Cause of Delay?", 43 J. AM. JUD. SOC'Y17 ( 1959); Ulmer, "An Empirical Analysis of Selected Aspects of Lawmaking of the United States Supreme Court", 8 J. PUB. L.414 ( 1959); Barton & Mendlovitz, "The Experience of Injustice as a Research Problem", 13. J. LEGAL ED.24 ( 1960); and Nagel, "Judicial Backgrounds and Criminal Cases", 53 J. CRIM. L., C. & P.S.333 ( 1962) (Chap. 18, infra).
See Jones, "Some Current Trends in Legal Research", 15 J. LEGAL ED.121 ( 1962).
For a defense of the desirability of applying the general scientific method to legal research (as contrasted to a clarification of some of the techniques involved) see Loevinger, "Jurimetrics: Science and Prediction in the Field of Law", 46 MINN. L. REV. 255 ( 1961); H. CAIRNS, THE THEORY OF LEGAL SCIENCE ( 1941); and Cohen, "Transcendental Nonsense and the Functional Approach", 35 COLUM. L. REV.809 ( 1935).


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Legal Process from a Behavioral Perspective
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 402

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?