There is a new blog on the block that should be interesting to anyone investigating, litigating and advocating consumer issues such as deceptive advertising, visual illusions, and human biases in issues such as lending and credit payments. Indeed, one of its founders, Jon Hanson, has been a leader in consumer law scholarship and areas such as product liability and market manipulation, using insights from social psychology and behavioral economics to inform policy. Here is the description of the blog and its origins:
Part of a larger effort, including the Project on Law and Mind Sciences at Harvard Law School (website forthcoming), this blog will provide commentary by social psychologists, law professors, policy analysts, practicing attorneys, and others connected to law and mind sciences. Our posts . . . will address current events and law and policy debates, informed by what social scientists are discovering to be the causally significant features around us and within us that we believe are irrelevant or don’t even notice in explaining human behavior, that is “the situation.”
Situationism is premised on the social scientific insight that the naïve psychology—that is, the highly simplified, affirming, and widely held model for understanding human thinking and behavior—on which our laws and institutions are based is largely wrong. Situationists (including critical realists, behavioral realists, and related neo-realists) seek first to establish a view of the human animal that is as realistic as possible before turning to legal theory or policy. To do so, situationists 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—particularly market practices. Jon Hanson & David Yosifon, The Situation: An Introduction to the Situational Character, Critical Realism, Power Economics, and Deep Capture, 152 U. Pa. L. Rev. 129, 149–77 (2003).
Situationism has been applied to such topics as power economics, natural disasters, obesity, commerical speech and junk-food advertising, Supreme Court dynamics, racial injustice, affirmative action, race and rape, employment discrimination, employee adherence to workplace rules, legitimization of war, inside counsel, and player autonomy in the National Basketball Association, among other topics.