Chapter

Attributions and Ideologies: Two Divergent Visions of Human Behavior Behind Our Laws, Policies, and Theories

Adam Benforado and Jon Hanson

in Ideology, Psychology, and Law

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199737512
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918638 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199737512.003.0012

Series: Series in Political Psychology

Attributions and Ideologies: Two Divergent Visions of Human Behavior Behind Our Laws, Policies, and Theories

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This chapter describes a major rift extending across many important debates over our legal structures, policies, and theories of law. It argues that the divide is based, to a significant extent, on contrasting attributional tendencies: the less accurate dispositionist approach, which explains outcomes and behavior with reference to people’s dispositions (that is, stable personalities, preferences, and the like), and the more accurate situationist approach, which bases attributions of causation and responsibility on unseen influences within us and around us (that is, cognitive proclivities and structures and external environmental forces). As this chapter summarizes, research on the underlying motives and conceptual metaphors behind conservatism and liberalism help explain the vital connections between those attributional styles and political ideologies.

Keywords: attributions; ideology; human behavior; legal theory; legal policies; policy debates; fundamental attribution error; dispositionism; situationism; naïve realism

Chapter.  16383 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Psychology

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