Roseanna Sommers is a JD/PhD candidate in law and psychology at Yale. She is interested in using behavioral science to improve access to justice; critique implicit theories of human cognition embedded in legal doctrines; and suggest psychologically informed interventions that bring legal actors and institutions closer in line with their aims. Her work uses psychological theories such as bounded rationality, implicit bias, and motivated reasoning to illuminate problems in the law. She conducts both laboratory and field experiments, and combines qualitative with quantitative methods.
Roseanna is interested in questions such as: Why don’t people appear in court, when they would have a high probability of prevailing if only they would show up? How do you get people to engage with the legal system, when they have little trust in the courts? How do laypeople understand important legal concepts such as consent, coercion, autonomy, and responsibility? Why do we hold people to their word in cases where they were deceived, coerced, or ignorant about what they were agreeing to?
Before graduate school, Roseanna served as a Bioethics Fellow at the NIH. Her work focused on the ethics of field studies, deceptive research, and other research for which obtaining informed consent is impracticable.