Implicit Social Cognition and Law

Posted: 27 Dec 2007 Last revised: 15 Apr 2013

See all articles by Kristin Lane

Kristin Lane

Bard College Program in Psychology

Jerry Kang

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Mahzarin R. Banaji

Harvard University - Department of Psychology; Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics

Abstract

Experimental psychology has provided substantial evidence that the human mind can operate in automatic, uncontrollable fashion as well as without conscious awareness of its workings and the sources of influence on it. With methods available to measure implicit or less conscious aspects of social cognition, especially group-specific attitudes and stereotypes, several aspects of the nature of implicit social cognition are now regarded as well established. Such results primarily include the pervasive and robust implicit favoritism for one's own groups and socially dominant groups, the dissociation between implicit and explicit social cognition, the ability of both to predict behavior, the greater impact of the former on certain discriminatory behaviors, and the sensitivity of seemingly implicit thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to change in response to situational features and experience. Legal scholarship and judicial opinions are beginning to consider how the law can and should adapt to such findings, in particular how they call into question existing assumptions regarding the notion of intent, and their relevance for anti-discrimination law.

If you are interested in receiving a copy of the full paper, please contact Professor Kang via e-mail.

Keywords: psychology and law, unconscious cognition, implicit bias, intent, discrimination, behavioral realism, equal protection, Title VII

Suggested Citation

Lane, Kristin and Kang, Jerry and Banaji, Mahzarin R., Implicit Social Cognition and Law. Annual Review of Law & Social Science, Vol. 3, December 2007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1061081

Kristin Lane (Contact Author)

Bard College Program in Psychology ( email )

Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504-5000
United States

Jerry Kang

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States
310-206-7298 (Phone)
310-206-7010 (Fax)

Mahzarin R. Banaji

Harvard University - Department of Psychology ( email )

33 Kirkland St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics ( email )

124 Mount Auburn Street
Suite 520N
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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