Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1755706
 
 

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‘They Saw a Protest’: Cognitive Illiberalism and the Speech-Conduct Distinction


Dan M. Kahan


Yale University - Law School; Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics

David A. Hoffman


Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law; Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School

Donald Braman


George Washington University - Law School; Cultural Cognition Project

Danieli Evans


Yale Law School; Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School

Jeffrey J. Rachlinski


Cornell Law School

February 5, 2011

Cultural Cognition Project Working Paper No. 63
Stanford Law Review, Vol. 64, 2012
Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-17

Abstract:     
“Cultural cognition” refers to the unconscious influence of individuals’ group commitments on their perceptions of legally consequential facts. We conducted an experiment to assess the impact of cultural cognition on perceptions of facts relevant to distinguishing constitutionally protected “speech” from unprotected “conduct.” Study subjects viewed a video of a political demonstration. Half the subjects believed that the demonstrators were protesting abortion outside of an abortion clinic, and the other half that the demonstrators were protesting the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy outside a campus recruitment facility. Subjects of opposing cultural outlooks who were assigned to the same experimental condition (and who thus had the same belief about the nature of the protest) disagreed sharply on key “facts” – including whether the protesters obstructed and threatened pedestrians. Subjects also disagreed sharply with those who shared their cultural outlooks but who were assigned to the opposing experimental condition (and hence had a different belief about the nature of the protest). These results supported the study hypotheses about how cultural cognition would affect perceptions pertinent to the “speech”-“conduct” distinction. We discuss the significance of the results for constitutional law and liberal principles of self-governance generally.

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Date posted: February 9, 2011 ; Last revised: April 16, 2013

Suggested Citation

Kahan, Dan M. and Hoffman, David A. and Braman, Donald and Evans, Danieli and Rachlinski , Jeffrey J., ‘They Saw a Protest’: Cognitive Illiberalism and the Speech-Conduct Distinction (February 5, 2011). Cultural Cognition Project Working Paper No. 63; Stanford Law Review, Vol. 64, 2012; Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-17. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1755706

Contact Information

Dan M. Kahan (Contact Author)
Yale University - Law School ( email )
P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.culturalcognition.net/kahan
Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics ( email )
124 Mount Auburn Street
Suite 520N
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

David A. Hoffman
Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )
1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States
215-204-0612 (Phone)
Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School
127 Wall St
New Haven, CT 06520
United States
Donald Braman
George Washington University - Law School ( email )
2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States
Cultural Cognition Project ( email )
2000 H St NW
2000 H Street
Washington, DC 20052 20052
United States
202-491-8843 (Phone)
202 491-8843 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.culturalcognition.net/braman
Danieli Evans
Yale Law School
P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States
Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School ( email )
127 Wall St
New Haven, CT 06520
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.culturalcognition.net/danieli-evans-homepage/
Jeffrey John Rachlinski
Cornell Law School ( email )
524 College Ave
Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-5878 (Phone)
607-255-7193 (Fax)
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