Monday, January 4, 2010

Secunda on Cultural Cognition at Work

PaulSecundaOur own Paul Secunda has posted his most recent article on SSRN: Cultural Cognition at Work. The abstract provides,

Cultural cognition theory provides an anthropological and psychological-based theory about how values actually influence judges. It suggests that values act as a subconscious influence on cognition rather than as a self-conscious motive of decision-making.

Applying these insights to two controversial U.S Supreme Court labor and employment decisions, this article contends that Justices in many instances are not fighting over ideology, but rather over legally-consequential facts. This type of disagreement is particularly prevalent in labor and employment law cases where the factual issues that divide judges involve significant uncertainty and turn on inconclusive evidence.

The distinction that this article draws between ideology and cultural cognition is critical for two independent reasons. First, the identification of cultural worldviews as a major influence on judicial decisionmaking assists in bringing legitimacy back to the judging function. Second, social science research indicates that existing techniques might be available for judges to counteract their susceptibility to this form of biased decisionmaking.

It's a valuable contribution to the work on how cognitive science can be used to understand both how decisions get made in the workplace and also how those actions are then viewed by judges in discrimination cases.


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