Language Dynamics in Supreme Court Oral Arguments

TitleLanguage Dynamics in Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Publication TypeConference Presentation
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsSagi, E
Secondary Title58th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society
Place PublishedVancouver, BC
Type of WorkPoster

During conversations, it is not uncommon to notice that interlocutors start using similar words and grammatical structures. This alignment of language use is thought to help comprehension, as well as indicate an alignment in underlying representations. It has also been shown that, in the context of negotiations, the degree to which parties exhibit such an alignment is an indication of the likelihood of reaching an agreement. The present study expands this notion to the courts and uses corpus statistics to examine the relationship between the alignment of semantic content during oral arguments and the decision reached by the justices. The analysis demonstrates that lawyers that align their language with that of the justices are more likely to have a decision in their favor. Additionally, as befits the power dynamic between justices and lawyers, lawyers are more likely to align their language with the justices than the justices are to align their language to that of the lawyers.

Citation Keybib_74