Social functionalist frameworks for judgment and choice: intuitive politicians, theologians, and prosecutors

Psychol Rev. 2002 Jul;109(3):451-71. doi: 10.1037/0033-295x.109.3.451.


Research on judgment and choice has been dominated by functionalist assumptions that depict people as either intuitive scientists animated by epistemic goals or intuitive economists animated by utilitarian ones. This article identifies 3 alternative social functionalist starting points for inquiry: people as pragmatic politicians trying to cope with accountability demands from key constituencies in their lives, principled theologians trying to protect sacred values from secular encroachments, and prudent prosecutors trying to enforce social norms. Each functionalist framework stimulates middle-range theories that specify (a) cognitive-affective-behavioral strategies of coping with adaptive challenges and (b) the implications of these coping strategies for identifying empirical and normative boundary conditions on judgmental tendencies classified as errors or biases within the dominant research programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Choice Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Intuition*
  • Judgment*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Social Behavior*
  • Sociology