Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Continuation of Monday's Discussion on Psychology and the Law

In Monday's class we had a great discussion regarding whether Psychological tests, factors, and influences should be taken into legal consideration. In every Psychology class that I've taken, one of the most heavily stressed comments made my Professors is that much of what we know is all based on theory and correlated data. Considering the fact that the law and jury trials are based on strict FACTS, I think it would be irrelevant to present Psychological theories as determining factors.

Although I find the self-fulfilling prophecy and theories towards biases and preferences interesting, I think that Psychology and Law should remain distinguished.


Blogger Stephanie Grohovsky said...

I agree with Brad on the stance that though Psychological factors most likely do play a role in the hiring, firing, and promotional process, the factors should not play a factor in law or court. Unless there is evidence that discrimination occurs, there is no way to prove that biases are playing a role in determining the hiring/firing/promotion. Law is only based on facts and until we are able to read minds, there is no way to find facts that these biases are occurring. As was proven through some of the exercises in our course, we all have unconscious biases that play a role in our interpretations of others our lives. We judge people each day on their looks, beliefs, and actions without even knowing we are doing so. Some people judge certain characteristics differently than others. From childhood, we learn these biases. There are some of us that may be more biased to certain races while others may judge individuals’ attractiveness or religion. Each person has their own specific biases and it would be impossible for legislators to create laws that would capture all these different unique biases and how they affect the workplace. I do think however, that there are certain things that can bring the unconscious biases to our attention. Affirmative action and quotas force hiring individuals to examine their biases and make them aware of the role that they play. I also agree with Professor Prenkart that exposure to different minority groups will also help eliminate biases. Does anyone else have any ideas on how these biases can be eliminated?

11:57 PM  
Blogger Nosh said...

I completely agree with Stephanie and Brad on this issue. In terms of law and the psychological theories Brad presented, I also agree that the two should be distinguished. In the court room and in LAW, it is not the intentions that govern actions, rather it is your actions that state an individual's interpretation of society. After all, it is not what you say, it is what you can prove.

Society, through history, has evolved to have biases; however, that does not mean everyone should ignore this fact. Rather, each individual should try to eliminate this. How? That is the golden question; Education, I believe, is one of the most effective ways to do it. Traditionally, biases are held against the minority, with this specific example, a bias reduction approach could be repeated informing the public about the notion of 'bias' and thus getting rid of it from there.

An alternate question that I have is: What exactly is the motivating factor for these individuals to have a bias? I am sure that has a lot to do with the degree to which people act on social stereotypes and/or minority groups.

Other thoughts?

2:10 PM  

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