This dissertation is organized into three chapters. They are all centered around the theme of whether the law, as a psychological construct, can encourage people to engage in unbiased, neutral decision making. Many empirical accounts of legal actors – both of elites and the mass public – demonstrate that legal decisions are often driven by people’s political beliefs. There is, however, comparatively little empirical scholarship that rigorously tests the mechanisms of legal cognition and whether the law can induce more normatively desirable decision making. My dissertation tackles this gap in the literature head-on. In the first chapter, I analyze legal decision making in lay people and law students and argue that thinking “like a judge” makes people more open to information that challenges their beliefs and preferences. In three experiments, I test whether a simple legal frame primes subjects to engage in “bottom-up” reasoning and dampens the effects of “top-down” or motivated reasoning. The results consistently indicate that subjects who are asked to think “like a judge” are less driven by their personal preferences than subjects in control groups. I obtain conflicted findings as to whether sophistication moderates that relationship but very strong results suggesting that even small amounts of legal training make subjects much more receptive to legal primes and better able to identify and be persuaded by strong legal arguments. The overall results suggest that the law, as a concept, can motivate people to set aside their personal convictions in order to get the “right” answer. I explore these findings within the broader literature of social cognition and their implications for political science’s account of judicial behavior. In the second chapter, I conduct an experiment to determine if legal decision making insulates people from pervasive forms of cognitive bias. The first chapter establishes that legal decision making encourages subjects to pursue accuracy goals and to be open to information and arguments that run counter to their personal policy preferences. In this chapter I test whether subjects who are asked to think “like a judge” will be influenced by legally irrelevant, affectively charged cues. I find that subjects in the legal treatment are just as influenced by a negative image prime as subjects in the control group, suggesting that while the law can encourage accurate decision making it is not a sufficient condition for engaging in “cool consideration.” I explore the implications of these findings within the broader literature on social cognition and judicial behavior. In the final chapter, I analyze the psychology of elite decision making and argue that Supreme Court justices engage in similar cognitive processes as the mass public. In particular, I posit that they may be subconsciously influenced by irrelevant information. To test this hypothesis, I track incidents of laughter during oral argument and demonstrate that, while controlling for other politically and strategically relevant variables, this positive but irrelevant stimuli can influence the justices’ votes. While not going so far as to conclude that attorneys should hone their stand-up routines, or that law is what the “judge had for breakfast,” I argue that the persuasive effect of laughter is evidence that the justices engage in a degree of automatic, subconscious processing when deciding on their cases. This serves as preliminary evidence that cognitive processes common to members of the mass public may drive elite behavior as well.