The Situationist

Fifth PLMS Conference Agenda

Posted by The Situationist Staff on February 23, 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tentative Schedule

8:45 – 9:15: Continental Breakfast

9:20 – 9:35: Opening Remarks (“The Psychology of Inequality”)

9:40 – 11:00: Session 1

Inequality and Health Outcomes:

•    9:40 – 10:05: Ichiro Kawachi, “Is Inequality Damaging to Population Health”:

More than two decades of research in the health sciences has shown that social status affects health. Studies in humans and non-human primates demonstrate that individuals lower on the social hierarchy end up with shorter, sicker lives. In this presentation I will review the major theories put forward to explain the association between social status and health. For simplicity, I will use income as the indicator of social status. The major theories are: a) the absolute income hypothesis, b) the relative income hypothesis, and c) the relative rank hypothesis. I will discuss empirical evidence for each theory.

•    10:10 – 10:35: Laura Kubzansky, “Stress and Reslience: Pathways to Social Disparities in Health”:

This presentation will discuss stress and resilience as important mechanisms by which social disparities influence health. It will consider how being stressed or resilient is shaped by social environment, and whether these processes influence health.

•    10:40 – 11:00: Q&A

11:05 – 12:55: Session 2

Psychology 1:

•    11:05 – 11:30: Kristina Olson, “Young Children’s Understanding of Social Inequality”:

I will discuss recent research indicating that even young children (aged 3-5 years), have an understanding of social inequality. In my lab and others, researchers are finding astounding evidence that children routinely notice social inequality, they favor individuals and groups who are high in social status, and they often behave in ways that perpetuate inequalities between individuals and groups. I will describe these results, their implications, and will describe other behaviors children engage in that might offset some of these biases to uphold or perpetuate the status quo.

•    11:35 – 12:00: Arnold Ho, “The Perception of Biracials and the Maintenance of Group-Based Social Hierarchies”:

Social Dominance Theory (SDT) begins with the basic observation that group-based social hierarchy is a ubiquitous and stable feature of human social organization, and provides a general framework for understanding the persistence of inequality. In this talk, I will provide a brief overview of SDT, and focus on new research documenting how the biased perception of biracials may serve a hierarchy-enhancing function.

•    12:00 – 12:25: Amy Cuddy, “Outcomes of Warmth and Competence”:

I will present a new perspective on stereotyping and discrimination, based on experimental and correlational findings, that helps to integrate the vast research literature on this topic and provides a unifying conceptual framework. Stereotypes cohere into fundamental dimensions of warmth and competence that combine to create specific patterns of emotion and behaviors toward members of various social groups. These stereotype dimensions and the distinct forms of discrimination they foster apply to a wide range of groups, including mothers, ethnic minorities, older people, and people of different nationalities. In contrast to past theories that assumed stereotypes of women, minorities, and foreigners are predominately negative and hostile, these findings show how many groups are stereotyped ambivalently – as competent but cold or as warm but incompetent. These ambivalent stereotypes create more complex, but predictable patterns of discrimination. Knowing which form of ambivalence a group faces can help us to better understand when and how stereotypes are likely to be applied and, therefore, where to concentrate our efforts to combat discrimination.

•    12:30 – 12:55: Q&A

1:00 – 1:45: Lunch

1:30 – 1:45: At end of lunch, special announcements regarding PLMS; SALMS; Online Experiment Clearinghouse

1:50 – 3:45: Session 3

Psychology 2:

•    1:50 – 2:15: Aaron Kay, “The Impact of Social Inequality and Fairness Beliefs on Long-Term Goal Pursuit”:

According to a huge body of literature within social, personality, and organizational psychology, people are motivated to believe that their social worlds operate fairly — that is, that people get what they deserve and deserve what they get. Indeed, even people most at risk for unfair treatment — that is, members of socially disadvantaged groups, such as those low in SES and minority group members — often believe that the world largely operates in a fair and legitimate manner. Are there any benefits to believing that an obviously unfair world is reasonably fair? For those who typically perpetrate or benefit from injustice — members of advantaged groups — the benefits of such beliefs are easy to understand.However, for those who typically suffer from injustice the benefits of believing in societal fairness are less obvious. This raises an intriguing question: What are specific functions, if any, that these beliefs serve for members of disadvantaged groups? In the current research, we hypothesize that the belief in societal fairness offers a specific self-regulatory benefit for members of socially disadvantaged groups, allowing them to more confidently commit to long-term goals. Five studies support this hypotheses, indicating that members of disadvantaged groups are more likely than members of advantaged social groups to calibrate their pursuit of long-term goals to their beliefs about societal fairness.

•    2:20 – 2:45: Eric Knowles, “The Malleability of Ideology”:

Theories of legitimization typically posit that individuals engage in a process of “assortative endorsement,” seeking out and embracing ideologies that match their intergroup motivations. Thus, individuals high in Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) tend to gravitate toward ideologies that enhance levels of intergroup inequality; those low in SDO, in contrast, tend to embrace hierarchy-attenuating ideologies. Whereas assortative endorsement assumes that ideological content is fixed, I propose that many ideologies are highly “malleable.” Although certain features of malleable ideologies remain constant and consensual, other aspects of their meaning are actively construed to meet particular intergroup agendas. I discuss several malleable ideologies, including colorblindness, diversity, and patriotism. Finally, I address implications of the present perspective for understanding sophisticated forms of hierarchy-enhancement, ideological cooptation, and the manner in which individuals compete over the meanings of crucial ideologies.

•    2:50 – 3:15: Jaime Napier, “Essentialism as Rationalization of Inequality among Disadvantaged Group Members”:

System justification theory posits that beliefs that the system is legitimate can serve epistemic and existential needs to manage uncertainty and threat. Members of advantaged and disadvantaged social groups, however, differ in their levels of conflict between needs to feel good about the system and needs to feel good about the group and the self. I propose that differential levels of conflict among high vs. low status group members can lead to different system-justifying beliefs. Specifically, I predicted that high status group members will tend to endorse system-serving beliefs that assume controllability on the part of the self and others (e.g., personal responsibility attributions). Low status group members, by contrast, will instead justify inequality by viewing it as a reflection of the natural order of things. That is, when needs to justify inequality are high, high status group members enhance themselves (and derogate others) on controllable actions, whereas low status group members will derogate themselves (and enhance others) on innate competence. I tested these propositions in the context of racial and gender inequality. Results from five studies converge to support my predictions. By removing the locus of control from the self, group, and system, naturalistic rationalizations of the status quo can serve to reduce the conflicts between ego-, group-, and system-justifying needs.

•    3:20 – 3:45: Q&A

3:50 – 4:05: Coffee Break

4:10 – 5:55: Session 4

Law & Policy:

•    4:10 – 4:35: Adam Benforado, “Fair and Balanced: The Inequality of Embodied Justice”:

Recent research from embodied cognition provides evidence that the body is involved in the constitution of the mind. In this talk, I will discuss current experimental work examining how people’s intuitions about fairness and justice may be linked to sensorimotor experiences of balance, evenness, and symmetry. Although the connection is reflected in many of our legal structures and processes, I suggest that it may be deeply problematic.

•    4:40 – 5:05: Jon Hanson, “Inequality Dissonance and Policy Attitudes”

A great deal of everyday policy commentary and legal-academic debate seems to turn on conflicting attitudes toward markets and regulation. But where do those attitudes come from? Reason, logic, and experience? Based on research I’ve been doing with Mark Yeboah for the last several years, my talk will take up that question and provide evidence suggesting that nonconscious motives — including the desire to assuage the dissonance created by salient inequalities — play a causal role in shaping policy attitudes.

•    5:10 – 5:25: Q&A

•    5:30 – 5:55: Large Panel Discussion – Presenters and Faculty Conferees

o    Bob Bordone
o    Stella Elias
o    John Palfrey
o    Lucie White
o    Andrew Woods

5:55 – 6:00: Closing Remarks

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