Legal Decision Lab


The Legal Decision Lab examines legal decisions with a social-cognitive psychological perspective. We are currently working on two sets of projects focusing on attributions made about attorneys and legal policies. Additionally, we are collaborating with researchers at Cornell University to understand legal decisions involving civil damage awards and plea bargains. You can also find a list of publications and manuscripts at the bottom of the page or on Dr. Reed's personal website.

Current Projects


Attorney Team

The Attorney Team is investigating the interaction between attorneys and the legal sysetm. We are currently working on projects asking questions such as:

  • How does an attorney's behavior (such as objecting, joining/severing cases, and making closing arguments) influence juror perceptions?
  • How do an attorney's characteristics (such as gender and attractiveness) influence juror perceptions?
  • How does the legal system influence lawyer and law student distress (including anxiety, stress, depression, and substance use)?
  • How does lawyer distress influence attorney discipline?

Dr. Reed has also investigated attorney advocacy in the juvenile justice system in collaboration with the Nebraska Youth Advocates. Specifically, we interviewed juvenile clients about their legal knowledge and procedural justice perceptions. We also coded attorney behavior (e.g., motion practice) and trained attorneys on developmental issues. We then examined the relationship between the trainings and both client perceptions and attorney behavior.


Policy Team

The Policy Team is investigating the social-cognitive psychological factors involved in people's decisions about policies. We are currently working on projects asking questions such as:

  • Are policy decisions influenced by the presence of a victim's story?
  • How do people feel about juvenile solitary confinement?
  • Are policies biased toward specific classes of victims?
  • How do record sealing policies influence job prospects of people with a juvenile record?

Dr. Reed has also conducted program evaluations with several agencies investigating the consequences of various policies and procedures within the criminal justice system.


Damage Awards

Damage Award Team

In combination with Dr. Valerie Hans and Dr. Valerie Reyna at Cornell, the Damages Team is investigating how jurors reach damage awards in civil cases. We are specifically interested in decisions involving less-tangible awards, such as pain and suffering. We are focusing on the eeffect of factors such as anchoring, attorney arguments, and juror individual differences (e.g., numeracy, understanding, Need for Cognition). We are currently running a mock-jury deliberation study investigating how jurors make these pain and suffering decisions in a group context. This project is funded by a grant by the National Science Foundation to Drs. Hans and Reyna.

Plea Deal

Plea Bargaining Team

The Plea Team is based out of the Psychology & Law Team in Dr. Valerie Reyna's Laboratory for Rational Decision Making at Cornell. The Plea Team is investigating cognitive bases (particularly those associated with Fuzzy Trace Theory) for plea bargaining decisions. We are currently investigating what offenders say drove their decisions, as well as the role of attorneys in the plea bargaining process.

Publications & Manuscripts

  • Reed, K., Fessinger, M., & Bornstein, B.H. (in preparation). What's in a name? Eponymous policies and public support.
  • Helm, R., Hans, V. P., Reyna, V. F., & Reed, K. (under review). Numeracy in the jury box: The influence of juror numeracy on damage award decisions.
  • Reed, K. (2019). Calls for speculation: The influence of attorney objections on juror perceptions. Buffalo Law Review, 67, 53-87.
  • Reed, K., Dellapaolera, K.S., Thimsen, S., & Bornstein, B.H. (2018). An empirical analysis of law-psychology journals: Who's publishing and on what? In M. K. Miller & B. H. Bornstein (Eds.), Advances in Psychology and Law (vol. 3). New York, NY: Springer Science Business Media.
  • Reed, K. (2018). Trial, interrupted: Juror perceptions of attorney objections. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE.
  • Reed, K. & Bornstein, B.H. (2018). Objection! Psychological perspectives on jurors' perceptions of in-court attorney objections. South Dakota Law Review, 63, 1-43.
  • Reed, K. & Bornstein, B. H. (2017). Grounds for relief: The implications of attorney distress for the legal system. Nebraska Lawyer.
  • Bornstein, B.H., Golding, J.L., Neuschatz, J., Kimbrough, K., Reed, K., Magyarics, C., & Luecht, K. (2017). Mock juror sampling issues in jury simulation research: A meta-analysis. Law & Human Behavior, 41, 13-28. doi: 10.1037/lhb0000223
  • Reed, K., Bornstein, B. H., Jeon, A. B., & Wylie, L. E. (2016). Problem signs in law school: Fostering attorney well-being early in professional training. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 47, 148-156. doi: 10.1016/j.ijlp.2016.02.019
  • Reed, K., & Bornstein, B.H. (2015). Juries, joinder, and justice. The Jury Expert, 27(3), 1-7.
  • Reed, K. (2015). Culpable by association: Juror decision making in joined civil cases (Unpublished master's thesis). University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE.
  • Reed, K., & Bornstein, B. H. (2015). Using mock jury studies to measure community sentiment toward child sexual abusers. In M. K. Miller, J.A. Blumenthal, & J. Chamberlain (Eds.), Handbook of community sentiment (pp. 57-68). New York, NY: Springer Science Business Media.
  • Wiener, R.L., Reed, K.., Delgado, R.H., & Caldwell, A.D. (2014). Validation study of the LS/CMI assessment tool in Nebraska (Research Report July 2014).
  • Reed, K., & Bornstein, B. H. (2013). A stressful profession: The experience of attorneys. In M.K. Miller & B.H. Bornstein (Eds.), Trauma, stress, and wellbeing in the legal system (pp. 217-244). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Reed, K. (2010). Hot or not? The influence of attorney attractiveness and gender on juror decision-making (Unpublished undergraduate thesis). Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, CA.