Social-cognitive theory explains the persistence of social bias in terms of the automatic placement of individuals into social categories, the function of which is to conserve cognitive resources while providing a basis for some (even if inaccurate) inferences. Within that paradigm, bias attenuation involves transcending social categorization through effortful individuation. Research on learning and expertise supports an alternative perspective: That training to categorize entire situations using, e.g., legal rules, their implications, and associated responses, can attenuate bias in social judgments by displacing or reducing the need to rely upon social categorization. The Competing Category Application Model (CCAM), a novel model of the effects of expertise on use of social stereotypes in judgment and decision-making, is proposed and tested. The results of three experimental studies provide strong evidence for CCAM. Across the studies, the liability decisions of untrained participants, participants trained on unrelated legal rules, and participants trained on indeterminate legal rules were consistent with the use of social stereotypes. By comparison, such stereotypes did not affect the decisions of trained participants who were applying determinate legal rules. Implications of the results and for future directions are discussed.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2012. Major: Psychology. Advisors: Eugene Borgida and Marti Hope Gonzales. 1 computer file (PDF); iv, 225 pages, appendices A-D.
Girvan, Erik James.
Habits of meaning: when legal education and other professional training attenuate bias in social judgments..
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