The Situationist

Posts Tagged ‘PLMS’

Richard Hackman on “What Makes for a Great Team”

Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 26, 2011


Harvard University professor Richard Hackman spoke in March at Harvard Law School.Professor Hackman has studied the secrets of effective teams ranging from airplane cockpit crews to musical ensembles. In his talk, sponsored by the Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences, Professor Hackman summarized the conditions that increase the likelihood of creating teamwork “magic.” For a brief introduction to Professor Hackman’s recent research on teamwork, check out this Harvard Business Review article on “sand dune teams.”

Posted in Conflict, Distribution, Education, Positive Psychology, Situationist Sports, Social Psychology, Video | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Psychology of Inequality

Posted by The Situationist Staff on March 25, 2011

Elaine McCardle wrote a terrific review of last month’s Fifth Annual PLMS Conference.  Her article is the spotlight piece on the Harvard Law School website and includes several excellent videos, photos, and links.  Here’s the story.

* * *

While equality is a fundamental principle of American law and the bedrock of the national psyche, inequality has actually increased in the past four decades in the distribution of wealth, power, opportunity, even health. Yet the topic of inequality has received relatively little attention from legal theorists, and, for the most part, it is ignored in the basic law school curriculum.

A conference last month at HLS, “The Psychology of Inequality,” presented by the Project on Law & Mind Sciences (PLMS), stepped into that vacuum, bringing together scholars, law students, and others to examine inequality from the standpoint of the latest research in social science, health science, and mind science, and to reflect on the implications of their findings for law. The HLS Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (SALMS), together with a group of roughly 20 students, were instrumental in organizing the conference.

“Inequality matters in ways that are not commonly understood, including in how people see and make sense of the world,” saysJon Hanson, the Alfred Smart Professor of Law and Director of PLMS. “Indeed, the way people respond to instances of inequality – either by equalizing, or by rationalizing – appears to be a very significant factor in how they view markets, regulation, and many important policy and social issues. So when we engage in policy debates, mustering all our best arguments and evidence in favor of a given policy conclusion we shouldn’t be perplexed when our opponent doesn’t budge,” says Hanson. “Such recalcitrance on both sides of a discussion often reflects, not the inadequacy, but the irrelevance, of the reasons being exchanged. Behind it all may be a conflict between largely subconscious urges: some people would rather rationalize inequality while others lean toward equalizing.”

Hanson was one of more than a dozen scholars who spoke at the Feb. 26 conference, the fifth annual conference by PLMS, founded by Hanson six years ago to promote interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration between the mind sciences and the l

egal community. PMLS supports research, writing and conferences in order to dislodge the prevailing “dispositionist” approach of law – which holds that human beings, for the most part, make rational choices based on logical preferences – in favor of a “situationist approach.” Situationsim recognizes that social sciences and mind sciences, including social psychology, social cognition, and cognitive neuroscience, have repeatedly demonstrated that human behavior is influenced by countless factors ignored by the dispositionist approach, which collectively are known as “situation.”

Jaime Napier, an assistant professor of psychology at Yale University, presented her research on the ways in which high-status and low-status groups differ in their rationalizations of inequality. High-status people tend to place blame on individuals for their lot in life, while low-status people tend to see theirs as the natural order of things. Eric Knowles, an assistant professor of psychology and social behavior at the University of California, Irvine, discussed his theory of “malleable ideologies,” through which different groups with a same core ideology – say, “life is sacred” – can come to different outcomes on issues such as abortion or the death penalty. Adam Benforado ’05, a former student of Hanson’s and an assistant professor at the Earl Mach School of Law at Drexel University, presented on the mind-body connection in decision-making, including how seemingly innocuous environmental influences such as room temperature might have significant influence on decisions made by juries and judges. Ichiro Kawachi, a Professor of Social Epidemiology and Chair of the Social/Behavioral Sciences Department at the Harvard School of Public Health, discussed research showing that people of lower social status lead shorter, sicker lives, while other speakers discussed ways that social disparities influence health, how even young children favor high-status individuals, and the drive among humans to view the world as essentially fair.

In addition to national experts in the areas of health, psychology, and mind sciences, a number of HLS faculty contributed to the discussion from their areas of expertise in a panel discussion (see video below), including John Palfrey ’01, the Henry N. Ess III

Professor of Law and Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources, an expert on the internet; Lucie White ’81, the Louis A. Horvitz Professor of Law, who specializes in poverty law and international economic and social rights; Robert C. Bordone ’97, the Thaddeus R. Beal Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program; Stella Burch Elias, a Climenko Fellow and Lecturer on Law and Andrew Woods ’07, a Climenko Fellow and Ph.D. candidate in politics at Cambridge University.

In that discussion, Hanson shared some provocative ideas. The good news, he said, is that humans have an egalitarian impulse, so that inequality causes them discomfort; some resolve the conflict by redistributing so that there is more equality, while others rationalize with reasons that explain the inequality. The bad news, Hanson added, is that it’s not terribly hard to move someone away from the equalizing impulse.

“When you experience fear and threat – personal threat, group threat, system threat – you become a hardcore dispositionist,” said Hanson, snapping his fingers, “just like that!”

* * *

More here. Related Situationist posts:

Posted in Distribution, Education, Embodied Cognition, Events, Ideology, Implicit Associations, Legal Theory, Situationist Contributors, System Legitimacy | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Fiery Cushman at Harvard law School – Video

Posted by The Situationist Staff on September 8, 2010

From The Harvard Law Record (Sept. 2009):

On September 21st, Fiery Cushman, a newly-minted PhD recipient and post-doctoral fellow at Harvard’s Mind, Brain and Behavior Initiative, presented some of his recent research at an event titled “Outcome vs. Intent: Which Do We Punish, and Why?” Cushman’s work suggests that at a gut-level, people assess whether a behavior was morally right or wrong by looking at the actor’s intentions, but when assigning punishment, people are overwhelmingly interested in outcomes, even if an outcome was accidental.

Cushman described several experiments where he was able to look at a participant’s intentions in isolation from the actual outcome of the participant’s actions. In one case, participants were given the choice of dice that would later be rolled to assign rewards to a second, receiving party. When given the opportunity, the recipient would consistently punish more often when the dice produced less favorable rewards, even if the initial participant intended to provide rewards generously. This work has interesting implications for tort law, explaining in part why findings of negligence lead to large compensatory rewards even in the absence of any intentional action.

Below is the video of that fascinating talk.

* * *


* * *

For a sample of related Situationist posts, “Law Students Flock to Situationism,” “Fiery Cushman at Harvard Law School,” Attributing Blame — from the Baseball Diamond to the War on Terror,” “John Darley on ‘Justice as Intuitions’ – Video,” “The Situation of Punishment in Schools,” Why We Punish,” “Kevin Jon Heller on The Cognitive Psychology of Mens Rea,” Mark Lanier visits Professor Jon Hanson’s Tort Class (web cast),” and “Situationist Torts – Abstract.”

Posted in Social Psychology, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Dan Wegner on “Psychological Studies of the Guilty Mind”

Posted by The Situationist Staff on March 27, 2010

From the Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (SALMS) and the Project on Law and Mind Sciences (PLMS) at Harvard Law School, here is an remarkable presentation, titled “Psychological Studies of the Guilty Mind,” by Dan Wegner, one of the most thoughtful and influential social psychologists in the business.

* * *

* * *

To review a collection of Situationist posts discussing Dan Wegner’s research, click here.

Posted in Illusions, Implicit Associations, Social Psychology, Video | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Geoffrey Cohen on “Identity, Belief, and Bias”

Posted by The Situationist Staff on November 12, 2009

Situationist Contributor, Geoffrey Cohen spoke at the Second Project on Law and Mind Sciences (PLMS) Conference (in March of 2008).  His talk, titled “Identity, Belief, and Bias” summarized research exploring the way in which motivations to protect long-held beliefs and identities contribute to bias, resistance to probative information, and ideological intransigence.  You can watch Cohen’s outstanding presentation in the following videos (each roughly 9 minutes in length).

* * *

* * *

* * *

* * *

For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “The Situation of the Achievement Gap,” “The Project’s Second Conference – ‘Ideology, Psychology & Law’,” “Women’s Situational Bind,” and “The Implicit Value of Explicit Values.”

Posted in Ideology, Life, Situationist Contributors, Social Psychology, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Free Market Mindset – Conference

Posted by The Situationist Staff on February 15, 2009

2009-conference-invitation-medium-draft

“I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms. . . . I found a flaw . . . in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works.”

~Alan Greenspan

* * *

The market collapse has brought not only financial crisis but a crisis of faith in what Ronald Reagan famously called “the magic of the market place.” If the current state of the U.S. economy makes clear that former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s faith in free markets was misplaced, the question remains: what was it about free markets that proved — and still continues to prove — so alluring to economists, scholars, and policy-makers alike?

THE FREE MARKET MINDSET: History, Psychology, and Consequences, the March 7 conference to take place at Harvard Law School, brings together leading scholars in law, economics, social psychology, and social cognition to present and discuss their research regarding the historical origins, psychological antecedents, and policy consequences of the free market mindset. Their work illustrates that the magic of the marketplace is partially an illusion based on faulty assumptions and outmoded approaches.

Confirmed participants include:

  • Anne Alstott (Manley O. Hudson Professor of Law  at Havard Law School),
  • James Cavallero (Executive Director of the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School),
  • Christine Desan (Professor of Law, Harvard Law School),
  • Jon Hanson (Alfred Smart Professor of Law, Harvard Law School),
  • Bernard E. Harcourt (Julius Kreeger Professor of Law and professor of political science, University of Chicago),
  • Sheena Iyengar (Professor, Management Division, Columbia Business School),
  • Douglas Kysar (Professor of Law, Yale University),
  • Gillian Lester is the Sidley Austin Professor of Law at Havard Law School
  • Stephen Marglin (Walter S. Barker Chair in the Department of Economics, Harvard University),
  • Jaime Napier (Ph.D student, Social Psychology, New York University),
  • Ben Sachs (Assistant Professor of Law, Harvard Law School),
  • Juliet Schor (Professor of Sociology, Boston College),
  • Barry Schwartz (Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action, Swarthmore College),

THE FREE MARKET MINDSET: History, Psychology, and Consequences promises to be an invigorating and illuminating discussion about the unexamined premises behind the policies that led to our current crises and about how we can avoid making the same kinds of mistakes in the future.

This event is free and open to the public.  To register or learn more details, go to the conference website, here.

Posted in Choice Myth, Deep Capture, Events, History, Ideology, Law, Legal Theory, Public Policy, Social Psychology | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 857 other followers

%d bloggers like this: