Comment on Uhlmann, Poehlman, and Nosek
IDEOLOGY, PSYCHOLOGY, AND LAW, Jon Larson, ed., Oxford University Press, 2012
4 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2011 Last revised: 4 Jan 2012
Date Written: December 4, 2011
The question “person or culture?” matters for law and policy because at issue is the viability of a new sort of “cultural defense.” That defense says that the (oftenembarrassing) automatic associations aren’t really measuring “me”; instead, they are measuring something about “culture.” So don’t blame me, and don’t hold me responsible. Uhlmann, Poehlman, and Nosek’s chapter demonstrates that a strong version of the cultural defense - that it has absolutely nothing to do with me - cannot withstand the evidence of predictive validity.
What about a weaker version that concedes that automatic associations have something to do with me and have some predictive power, but that they do not amount to an “attitude” and instead influence behavior via “social norms”? In this brief Comment, I argue that from an ethical and legal perspective, it is unclear what if anything should turn on that fine distinction in state of mind. Far more important are two simple questions: First, do we consciously endorse the automatic associations in our heads? Second, what will we do to counter the automatic associations we consciously reject?
Keywords: implicit bias, culture, cultural defense
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation