Making The Case for Situationism

Situationism is the view that arises from research in social psychology which discovered that human behavior is more powerfully determined by our situations than it is by our character.

Character counts to some degree, but not nearly as much as most people think.

The following list of articles from various peer-reviewed journals make the strongest arguments I have seen for situationism.

The fact that the authors were communicating psychological concepts to non-psychologists forced them to write about the research findings in a more accessible manner than is normally done.

The main drawback and one of the other strengths of these articles is that they are published for lawyers and some are specifically for lawyers who are conversant in economics.

The strength that the legal audience lends to these articles is that they usually hold to higher standards for the logical construction of the arguments than would be the case for non-lawyerly audiences.

The drawback is that lawyers and economists are fond of jargon.

The articles are accessible if you can read past the occasional legal and economic jargon.

The first three are a series that sums up the case well and the rest are provided for those who want more detail or would like to see how it has been applied to specific issues.

The links are directly to a pdf file or a source for a pdf file of the article.


Don Berg

Summarizing Situationism Series

#1: The Great Attributional Divide: How Divergent Views of Human Behavior are Shaping Legal Policy
(2008) by Adam Benforado & Jon Hanson

#2: Naïve Cynicism: Maintaining False Perceptions in Policy Debates
(2008) by Adam Benforado & Jon Hanson

#3: Legal Academic Backlash: The Response of Legal Theorists to Situationist Insights
(2008) by Adam Benforado & Jon Hanson

More Situationism For The Curious

#4: The Situation: An Introduction to the Situational Character, Critical Realism, Power Economics, and Deep Capture
(2003) by Jon Hanson and David Yosifon

#5: The Situational Character: A Critical Realist Perspective on the Human Animal
(2004) by Jon Hanson and David Yosifon

#6: Categorically Biased: The Influence of Knowledge Structures on Law and Legal Theory
(2004) by Ronald Chen & Jon Hanson

#7: The Illusion Of Law: The Legitimating Schemas of Modern Policy and Corporate Law
(2004) by Ronald Chen and Jon Hanson

#8: The Costs of Dispositionism: The Premature Demise of Situationist Law and Economics
(2005) by Adam Benforado and Jon Hanson

#9: The Blame Frame: Justifying (Racial) Injustice in America
(2006) by Jon Hanson and Kathleen Hanson

#10: Resisting Deep Capture: The Commercial Speech Doctrine and Junk-Food Advertising to Children
(2006) by David Yosifon