Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Situationist blog sheds light on predicting and influencing human conduct

The Situationist gets into people's minds
As a mediator, I see people behave under extraordinary pressure and in the face of difficult circumstances. They come with carefully constructed narratives of the past which often must be dismantled and considered anew. Their understanding and reactions may influenced by unanticipated forces. I watch as they struggle to expand the boundaries of perception--and reshape their understanding of themselves and each other.

As a consequence of my work, the way people interpret the world around them fascinates me. I was therefore glad to be introduced to a blog that opens my eyes to the workings of the human mind. The Situationist

is a forum for scholars, students, lawyers, policymakers, and interested citizens to examine, discuss, and debate the effect of situational forces – that is, non-salient factors around and within us – on law, policy, politics, policy theory, and our social, political, and economic institutions.

What does a situationist do?

...[S]ituationists rely on the insights of scientific disciplines devoted to understanding how humans make sense of their world—including social psychology, social cognition, and related disciplines—and the practices of institutions devoted to understanding, predicting, and influencing people’s conduct...
A sampling of recent posts from The Situationist includes:

"Pervasive Developmental Disorders and the Formation of Stereotypes", which describes how stereotypes are so easy to learn that they can develop even in the presence of "damage to the 'social brain'".

"First Person or Third, How Would You Tell Your Story?", discussing the ways in which people express memory as narrative.

"Slips, Falls, and the Situation of Tort Reform(ers)", raising the possibility that tort reform advocate Robert Bork's slip-and-fall suit against the Yale Club of New York is the result of a phenomenon known as "actor/observer difference" in which we see our own actions as the result of situational factors while seeing the actions of others as a result of their dispositions.

(Thanks to Steve Hicks for the link.)