Red States, Blue States, and Brain States: Issue Framing, Partisanship, and the Future of Neurolaw in the United States

Francis X. Shen, Dena M. Gromet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Advances in neuroscience are beginning to shape law and public policy, giving rise to the field of “neurolaw.” The impact of neuroscientific evidence on how laws are written and interpreted in practice will depend in part on how neurolaw is understood by the public. Drawing on a nationally representative telephone survey experiment, this article presents the first evidence on public approval of neurolaw. We find that the public is generally neutral in its support for neuroscience-based legal reforms. However, how neurolaw is framed affects support based on partisanship: Republicans’ approval of neurolaw decreases when neuroscience is seen as primarily serving to reduce offender culpability, whereas Democrats’ approval is unaffected by how neurolaw is framed. These results suggest that both framing and partisanship may shape the future of neuroscience-based reforms in law and policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-101
Number of pages16
JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Volume658
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 14 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Preparation of this article was supported in part by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (Grant # 07-89249-000 HCD), The Regents of the University of California, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Minnesota, and Vanderbilt University. We thank our colleagues, especially Govind Persad, Adina Roskies, and participants at the 2011 annual meeting of the Law and Society Association, for constructive feedback on earlier drafts. We also thank Grace Jensen and Jason Reed for helpful research assistance.

Keywords

  • framing
  • law
  • neurolaw
  • neuroscience
  • partisanship
  • public opinion

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