This article presents the findings of a study designed to measure how variations in the way college professors present information can affect students’ interpretation of the information. The topic analyzed involves two competing theories of constitutional interpretation, originalism and living constitutionalism.1 Variations on how the information was presented include the following: 1) informing the student which theory typically aligns with which political party; 2) making salient the student’s political philosophy; 3) including a short argument in favor of the two theories of constitutional interpretation; 4) altering the sequence in which these two arguments appear; and 5) informing the student as to which theory of constitutional interpretation the professor allegedly prefers. These changes resulted in stark differences in which theory of constitutional interpretation the student elected to support. This is consistent with existing literature on cognitive biases, such as anchoring and the serial-position effect.
"Putting it in Neutral: How Sequence, Severity, and Sincerity of Information Presentation Affect Student Opinions,"
North East Journal of Legal Studies: Vol. 41, Article 3.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.fairfield.edu/nealsb/vol41/iss1/3