Volume 8, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2210-4070
  • E-ISSN: 2210-4097
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It is known that courtroom decisions can be influenced by subtle psychological biases, such as asking leading questions. Informed by metaphor research on the connection between spatial proximity and intimacy (e.g., ‘we are ’, ‘their views are ’), this paper reports four experiments that look at the potential role of psychological biases arising from the spatial layout of a courtroom. In particular, we ask the question: Does being close or far to a defendant influence one’s reasoning about who is likely to win or lose a court case? Working with an American (jury-based) legal system as an example, our experiments manipulated the physical distance between the jury box and the defendant’s table as shown on images of a courtroom. Across several manipulations, we discovered that participants judged the defendant to be more likely to win when the defendant’s table was located close to the jury box. These studies are in line with the research on ‘metaphor-enriched social cognition’, showing that the way we talk about relationships in terms of space corresponds to social reasoning in a spatial world.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): courtroom layout; social distance; spatial bias; spatial metaphor
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