The Situationist

Posts Tagged ‘public opinion’

The Situation of Scientific Consensus

Posted by The Situationist Staff on February 15, 2010

Situationist Contributor Dan Kahan, Hank Jenkins-Smith, and Donald Braman, have just posted another fascinating paper, “Cultural Cognition of Scientific Consensus” on SSRN.  Here’s the abstract.

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Why do members of the public disagree – sharply and persistently – about facts on which expert scientists largely agree? We designed a study to test a distinctive explanation: the cultural cognition of scientific consensus. The “cultural cognition of risk” refers to the tendency of individuals to form risk perceptions that are congenial to their values. The study presents both correlational and experimental evidence confirming that cultural cognition shapes individuals’ beliefs about the existence of scientific consensus, and the process by which they form such beliefs, relating to climate change, the disposal of nuclear wastes, and the effect of permitting concealed possession of handguns. The implications of this dynamic for science communication and public policy-making are discussed.

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You can download the paper for free here.  For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “The Broader Situation: A Case Study of Cop Car Cameras,” Whose Eyes are You Going to Believe?,” Dan Kahan on the Situation of Risk Perceptions,” Cultural Cognition as a Conception of the Cultural Theory of Risk,” To still more  Situationist posts discussing cultural cognition, click here.

Posted in Abstracts, Cultural Cognition, Education, Ideology, Legal Theory, Politics, Public Policy, Situationist Contributors | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Mood and Moral Judgment – Abstract

Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 22, 2009

emotion3We recently encountered an interesting paper by Jeremy A. Blumenthal, “Does Mood Influence Moral Judgment?: An Empirical Test with Legal and Policy Implications” (29 Law and Psychology Review (2005)) on SSRN.   Here’s the abstract.

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Despite recurring interest in the potential for affect to influence “rational” reasoning, in particular the effect of emotion on moral judgments, legal scholars and social scientists have conducted far less empirical research directly testing such questions than might be expected. Nevertheless, the extent to which affect can influence moral decisions is an important question for the law. Watching a certain sort of movie, for instance, can significantly influence responses to opinion polls conducted shortly after that movie. Legislative action based on public opinion as so expressed, or media reports of public opinion based on such polls, could thus inaccurately reflect that public sentiment. This is especially so for social and policy issues that are heavily emotional, such as capital punishment or affirmative action.

Most discussion on law and emotions has been theoretical, addressing philosophical approaches to law and emotion. What psychological data exist are mixed, and virtually none appears in the legal literature. Thus, to bring the legal academic discussion into the realm of the empirical, and to provide further data on the question of affective influences on moral and legal decision-making, I conducted two experimental studies examining mood’s influence on moral judgments.

After clarifying what I mean by “moral judgment” and how I measured it, I report the methodologies and results of those studies. Briefly, the data support other empirical research showing that individuals in a positive mood (here, happiness) tend to process information more superficially than those in a negative mood (here, anxiety). I then discuss the results’ implications for the legal system, including implications for trials (e.g., victim impact statements or graphic testimony), and implications for public policy-making (e.g., the context of public opinion polls and surveys).

Most broadly, the data contribute to the developing legal literature on the role of emotions in the law. They highlight the importance of conducting empirical research, and of the translation of such empirics to specific legal and policy applications.

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To download the paper for free, click here.  For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Law, Psychology & Morality – Abstract,” “Situating Emotion,” “The Motivated Situation of Morality,” and “Moral Psychology Primer.”

Posted in Abstracts, Emotions, Experimental Philosophy, Law, Morality, Social Psychology | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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