Here is an illuminating interview of Situationist Contributor Eric Knowles by Harvard Law student Anna Lamut. The interview, titled “On Moral Judgment and Normative Questions” lasts just over 72 minutes. It was conducted as part of the Law and Mind Science Seminar at Harvard taught by Situationist Contributor Jon Hanson.
Eric Knowles is an assistant professor of Psychology & Social Behavior, Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley. The following blurb from his website describes his research:
“When does inequality seem like inequity? Broadly speaking, my research examines how people perceive and react to the fact that some groups in society have more than others. I am especially interested in how different types of motivations — e.g., to bolster the hierarchy, to see oneself as a good and deserving person — lead people to deny the existence of inequity, dis-identify with their ingroup, or form attitudes likely to reduce intergroup disparities.”
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Table of Contents
:20 – What does your research focus on generally?
2:48 – What does it mean to make color-blindness work for you?
6:08 – What does “hierarchy attenuation” mean?
10:00 – What are some other ideas that get co-opted in this way?
14:58 – Back to the point you made about patriotism, do you feel that the Conservatie interpretation has been “winning” in recent years?
20:25 – Is this a topic you are planning to undertake in your research?
22:25 – Moving to your 2009 article entitled “Racial prejudice predicts opposition to Obama and his healthcare plan,” how did you develop the methodology?
24:10 – How did you choose to use the Go-No Go Association Task rather than the Implicit Association Test for the study?
41:04 – For the portion of the study where you asked those respondents who tested positive for implicit racial bias about their reasons for opposing Obama, were they able to submit their own reasons or did they choose from a list?
41:55 – This theme–of individuals finding legitimate-sounding justifications for beliefs that may originate in racism–seems related to those discussed in your piece, “Preference, principle, and political casuistry.” Would you agree?
44:43 – What are some other reasons people do this?
45:30 – In “Preference, principle, and political casuistry,” you refer to this process as a hybrid view between preference and principle. Could you expand on this?
51:14 – Would you say that this broadens the explanatory power for the theory, that it would then apply also to individuals’ reasoning about issues that are not explicitly tied to race?
51:52 – What are your thoughts on the critique of the study of implicit racial bias, as stated in Charles Lawrence’s article, “Unconscious Racism Revisited,” that studies of implicit racial bias “normalize” racism by explaining it as a product of our brains’ natural propensity to categorize, and that these studies therefore do not address group or institutional racism?
62:39 – How is your research applicable to Lawrence’s critique in that it addresses the effect of these individual biases on group decision-making, such as elections?
65:45 – How did you get interested in the topics that you now research?
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Eric Knowles is one of the confirmed presenters at the 2011 PLMS conference on “The Psychology of Inequality.”
For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Fifth Annual PLMS Conference – Save the Date,” “Jim Sidanius ‘Terror, Intergroup Violence, and the Law’,” “The Palliative Function of Ideology,” “The Blame Frame – Abstract,” “Barbara Ehrenreich on the Sources of and Problems with Dispositionism,” “The Motivated Situation of Inequality and Discrimination,” “John Jost on System Justification Theory,” “John Jost’s “System Justification and the Law” – Video,” “The Situation of Political and Religious Beliefs?,” “The Situation of Ideology – Part I,” and “The Situation of Ideology – Part II.”