The Expressive Rationality of Inaccurate Perceptions

Behavioral & Brain Sciences (Forthcoming)

5 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2015 Last revised: 5 Mar 2016

Dan M. Kahan

Yale University - Law School

Date Written: October 7, 2015


This comment uses the dynamic of identity-protective cognition to pose a friendly challenge to Jussim (2012). The friendly part consists of an examination of how this form of information processing, like many of the ones Jussim describes, has been mischaracterized in the decision science literature as a “cognitive bias”: in fact, identity-protective cognition is a mode of engaging information rationally suited to the ends of the agents who display it. The challenging part is the manifest inaccuracy of the perceptions that identity-protective cognition generates. At least some of the missteps induced by the “bounded rationality” paradigm in decision science reflect its mistaken assumption that the only thing people use their reasoning for is to form accurate beliefs. Jussim’s critique of the bounded-rationality paradigm, the comment suggests, appears to rest on the same mistaken equation of rational information processing with perceptual accuracy.

Keywords: identity protective cognition, motivated reasoning, expressive rationality

Suggested Citation

Kahan, Dan M., The Expressive Rationality of Inaccurate Perceptions (October 7, 2015). Behavioral & Brain Sciences (Forthcoming). Available at SSRN:

Dan M. Kahan (Contact Author)

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States


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