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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Justifying and Rationalizing Questionable Behavior

Michael Norton, Associate Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

How do people justify their sometimes regrettable behavior to themselves – such as discriminating against others on the basis of gender and race? We suggest that a common strategy used to avoid the appearance of bias when making such decisions is to cloak decision-making in more acceptable terms: when people make decisions based on questionable criteria – such as gender – they scan the environment for other less controversial attributes that can be recruited to justify their decisions. We demonstrate this general process in domains ranging from racism in the legal system (Blacks being disproportionately excluded from juries in trials with Black defendants) to gender discrimination (women being passed over for traditionally “male” jobs), showing that in each case, decision-makers are careful to find other mundane attributes to mask the true reasons underlying their biased decision making.

Lunch will be provided. An RSVP is not required as this is an open event.

  • Location:
    WAPPP Cason Seminar Room, Taubman Building, Room 102
  • Date:
    Thursday, February 7, 2013
  • Time:
    11:40 AM

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