Cultural Cognition and Public Policy: The Case of Outpatient Commitment Laws

51 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2008 Last revised: 16 Apr 2013

Dan M. Kahan

Yale University - Law School

Donald Braman

George Washington University - Law School; Cultural Cognition Project

John Monahan

University of Virginia School of Law

Lisa Callahan

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ellen Peters

Ohio State University - Psychology Department; Decision Research; University of Oregon

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

What explains controversy over outpatient commitment laws (OCLs), which authorize courts to order persons with mental illness to accept outpatient treatment? We hypothesized that attitudes toward OCLs reflect cultural cognition (DiMaggio 1997), which motivates individuals to conform their beliefs about policy-relevant facts to their cultural values. In a study involving a diverse sample of Americans (N = 1,496), we found that individuals who are hierarchical and communitarian tend to support OCLs, while those who are egalitarian and individualistic tend to oppose them. These relationships, moreover, fit the cultural cognition hypothesis: that is, rather than directly influencing OCL support, cultural values, mediated by affect, shaped individuals' perceptions of how effectively OCLs promote public health and safety. We discuss the implications for informed public deliberation over OCLs.

Keywords: cultural cognition, outpatient commitment

Suggested Citation

Kahan, Dan M. and Braman, Donald and Monahan, John and Callahan, Lisa and Peters, Ellen, Cultural Cognition and Public Policy: The Case of Outpatient Commitment Laws (2009). Law and Human Behavior, Forthcoming; Cultural Cognition Project Working Paper No. 47; Harvard Law School Program on Risk Regulation Research Paper No. 08-21. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1178362 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1178362

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

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

John Monahan

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
434-924-3632 (Phone)

Lisa Callahan

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Ellen Peters

Ohio State University - Psychology Department ( email )

Blankenship Hall-2010
901 Woody Hayes Drive
Columbus, OH OH 43210
United States

Decision Research ( email )

1201 Oak Street, Suite 200
Eugene, OR 97401
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.decisionresearch.org

University of Oregon ( email )

1280 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403
United States

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