Skip to content

Adam Benforado & Jon D. Hanson, Seeing Bias: Discrediting and Dismissing Accurate Attributions, in Ideology, Psychology, and Law 453 (Jon D. Hanson ed., 2012).

Abstract: This chapter explores the way in which dispositionism maintains its dominance as an attributional framework despite failing to capture accurately the causes of human behavior. The answer lies in a subordinate dynamic and discourse, naïve cynicism: the basic subconscious mechanism by which dispositionists discredit and dismiss generally more accurate situationist insights and their proponents. Without the operation of naïve cynicism, dispositionism would be far more vulnerable to challenge and change. Naïve cynicism is, thus, critically important to explaining how and why certain legal policies manage to carry the day. As a case study, the chapter considers the naïve cynical backlash against situationist accounts of the causes of prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and other detentions centers.