The Situationist

Archive for November, 2011

Hail to the (New) Chief

Posted by Adam Benforado on November 4, 2011

I was excited to learn on Thursday that my colleague and neighbor across the hall, Donald Bersoff, has been elected president of the American Psychological Association.

This is great news for the APA as an institution and for Don personally, but I also think it is a victory for all those interested in the intersection of law and psychology.

While Don holds a Ph.D. in psychology from N.Y.U. and has published numerous articles in the field, he is also a lawyer and law professor (the first to be elected APA President).  Indeed, he was once a partner in the D.C. office of Jenner & Block, where I worked prior to entering academia.  Today, he directs the Law and Psychology Program here at Drexel.

The APA is an immense organization with 150,000 member and many tough challenges ahead, but I feel confident that Don is just the leader to steer a course to a bright future where interdisciplinary research and collaborative endeavors between legal scholars/practitioners and psychologists are valued and supported.

Posted in Awards | Leave a Comment »

Dr. Robert Trivers at Harvard Law – Thursday

Posted by The Situationist Staff on November 2, 2011

Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (SALMS) Speakers Series:

Robert Trivers, Rutgers Biologist and Anthropologist: “Deceit and Self-Deception: Fooling others the better to fool ourselves.” 

Thursday, 11/3, 12-1 pm, Austin West; 

SALMS serves lunch: Free Burritos!

Why do we deceive ourselves so often in our daily lives?  Robert Trivers, Professor of Anthropology and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University, argues that  self-deception evolved in the service of deceit—the better to fool others. We do it for biological reasons—in order to help us survive and procreate. From viruses mimicking host behavior to humans misremembering (sometimes intentionally) the details of a quarrel, science has proven that the deceptive one can always outwit the masses. But we undertake this deception at our own peril.  Trivers will present findings from his new book, “The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life.”

Trivers won the Crafoord Prize in Biosciences in 2007 for his fundamental analysis of social evolution, conflict, and cooperation. Harvard’s Steven Pinker has described Trivers as an “under-appreciated genius”: “In an astonishing burst of creative brilliance, Trivers wrote a series of papers in the early 1970s that explained each of the five major kinds of human relationships: male with female, parent with child, sibling with sibling, acquaintance with acquaintance, and a person with himself or herself. . . . Trivers’ ideas are, if such a thing is possible, even more important than the countless experiments and field studies they kicked off. They belong in the category of ideas that are obvious once they are explained, yet eluded great minds for ages; simple enough to be stated in a few words, yet with implications we are only beginning to work out.”

Read more at the SALMS website.

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Posted in Events, Evolutionary Psychology | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

The Situation of Inequality

Posted by The Situationist Staff on November 2, 2011

From TEDTalks:

We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong. Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart: real effects on health, lifespan, even such basic values as trust.

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Posted in Distribution, Life, Politics, Video | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Implicit Juror Bias

Posted by The Situationist Staff on November 1, 2011

Anna Roberts posted her article, “(Re)Forming the Jury: Detection and Disinfection of Implicit Juror Bias” (Connecticut Law Review, Vol. 44, 2012) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract.

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This Article investigates whether one of the most intractable problems in trial procedure can be ameliorated through the use of one of the most striking discoveries in social science. The intractable problem is selecting a fair jury. Current doctrine fails to address the fact that jurors harbor not only explicit, or conscious bias, but also implicit, or unconscious, bias. The discovery is the Implicit Association Test (“IAT”), an online test that aims to reveal implicit bias.

This Article conducts the first comparison of proposals that the IAT be used to address jury bias. They fall into two groups. The first group would use the IAT to “screen” potential jurors for implicit bias; the second group would use the IAT to educate jurors about implicit bias. These proposals merit deeper consideration. Implicit bias is pervasive, and affects crucial juror functions: evaluation of evidence, recall of facts, and judgments of guilt. Juries are generally told nothing about implicit bias. The judiciary has expressed concern about implicit juror bias, and sought help from the academy in addressing the problem.

I provide what the proposals lack: critique and context. I show that using the IAT to screen jurors is misguided. The educational project has merit, however, since implicit bias can be countered through knowledge of its existence and motivation to address it. To refine the project, I identify two vital issues that distinguish the proposals: when jurors should learn about implicit bias, and how they should learn.

On the issue of when, I argue that the education should begin while the jurors are still being oriented. Orientation is not only universal, but, as research into “priming” and “framing” has shown, a crucial period for the forming of first impressions. On the issue of how, I argue that those proposals that would include the jurors taking an IAT are superior to those that would simply instruct jurors on what the IAT shows. In an area fraught with denial, mere instruction would likely be dismissed as irrelevant. I use pedagogical theory to show that experiential learning about bias is more likely to be effective.

I bring when and how together, proposing a model that would include the use of the IAT as an experiential learning tool during orientation. It would harness the civic energy of jurors to an educational purpose, rather than letting it morph into boredom; by putting jurors in an active mindset, it would enhance their satisfaction with the process, and their ability to perform optimally. As for potential jurors who are never selected, their participation would honor the long-standing educational function of jury service.

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Download the article for free here.

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Posted in Abstracts, Implicit Associations, Law | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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