As well as interviews, surveys are another method to ask judicial officers about emotion. A major focus of the JRP has been an ambitious national survey programme, beginning with a survey sent to all Australian magistrates in 2002 (undertaken as part of an ARC Linkage Project Grant: The Changing Role of the Magistrates Court [LP 0210306]), followed by a survey of all Australian judges in 2007, and a second survey of all Australian magistrates in 2007 (Roach Anleu and Mack 2017). The 2007 surveys were undertaken as part of an ARC Discovery Grant: The Australian Judiciary: A National Socio-Legal Analysis (DP 0665198).

Using the 2002 magistrates survey as the starting point, the two authors developed, pilot-tested then mailed the National Survey of Australian Judges to all 566 judges throughout Australia in March 2007 with a response rate of 55 percent. The 2007 National Survey of Australian Magistrates was mailed to all 457 state and territory magistrates throughout Australia, with a response rate of 53 percent. The respondents are generally representative of the judiciary, in terms of gender, age and time on the bench. The surveys used a mix of closed and open-ended questions relating to current position, career background and education, everyday work, job satisfaction and demographic information.

Some of the questions directly address the role of emotion injudicial officers’ everyday work. One question asked survey respondents to rate the importance of several qualities or skills including compassion, courtesy, empathy, patience and managing the emotions of court users as essential, very important, important, somewhat important or not important. Other questions addressed stress-related dimensions of judicial work such as ’my work is emotionally draining' and ‘difficult decisions keep me awake at night’ with the response categories of always, often, sometimes, rarely and never. Response choices for ‘making decisions is very stressful' were strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree. Open-ended questions asking judicial officers to reflect on their judicial careers also generated information about emotion.

Surveys and interviews provide complementary data. Surveys collect the same kind of information from many people, and responses can be aggregated and compared. Interviews enable more in-depth exploration of responses. However, it is important to note that data from the JRP surveys and interviews is not cross-linked. Surveys were anonymous; there was no identification or tracking of survey booklets or respondents. It is impossible to know who did or did not respond, so the interviewees were not and could not be cross-referenced in any way with the survey participants and their responses, who remain anonymous.[1]

  • [1] It is not possible for the researchers to know if any of the interviewees responded to either of the surveys, though only some interviewees would have been in judicial office at the time of the surveys. Any interviewee first appointed to the judiciary after 2007 would not have received a survey.
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