Law, Race & Social Psychology – 6831

Fall 2020

"The lawyer and the judge and the juryman are sure that they do not need the experimental psychologist. They do not wish to see that in this field preeminently applied experimental psychology has made strong strides.... They go on thinking that their legal instinct and their common sense supplies them with all that is needed and somewhat more; and if the time is ever to come when the jurist is to show some concession to the spirit of modern psychology, public opinion will have to exert some pressure."

[From Munsterberg, H. (1908). On the witness stand. New York: Doubleday, Page, & Co. (pp. 10-11)]

Seminar Rationale: This interdisciplinary seminar will examine the law and science of implicit (vs. explicit) racial and/or gender bias in three socio-legal domains: (1) criminal law, (2) affirmative action, and (3) employment discrimination. Each of these domains, in different ways, highlights what some scholars suggest is the disconnect between legal standards and rules for decision making that largely rely on intuition and commonsense, and psychological science on how people actually think about legal and policy issues through the filters of race and gender. Therefore, each week, we will read, discuss, and evaluate the pertinent legal standards and assumptions, in the context of pertinent psychological and social science. The seminar will culminate with a range of team presentations in the form of amicus briefs/white papers/judicial opinions that take a position informed by the law and science of implicit bias.

Cross-listed with Psy 8210