The Psychology of Philosophy

In a comment on New Paper Rae draws our attention to a discussion of work by Carol Dweck at Stanford.  It reminded me for the nth time (where “n” is a large number) how impoverished philosophical discourse seems to be with regard to very important psychological factors.  These have to do with implicit biases, stereotype threat, how conceptions of talent influence performance, ways in which teachers express gender preferences in addressing students, how insiders react to remembering the contributions of outsiders, and so on. 

So how about collecting together some web papers on these and other topics?  Let me start with a few, I think most of which have been mentioned before on this blog.  So please!  Do mention some new topics and new readings!

Implicit Bias:  Jenny Saul’s paper.

Conceptions of talent and their influence on performance:  Carol Dweck’s paper mentioned above.

Stereotype threat:  A popular article by Claude Steele.

Ways one might reduce bias (about racism, but can apply to sexism), a paper from Dovidio’s group.

One of the things that started me thinking about the gap in psychological knowledge in our profession was a discussion on Leiter’s blog about whether the APA should allow job interviews in hotel rooms with beds.  Most of the male commentors seemed to think the problem was about sexual harassment.   This suggested to be a very thin grasp of the differences among men’s and women’s reactions to domestic scenes that can have to do with highly gendered roles.   We could try to do something about that too.

I just failed to find web versions of two papers, so let me suggest that it would be alright to provide an abstract to a paper that could be downloaded from a university database.

3 thoughts on “The Psychology of Philosophy

  1. Since part of the puzzle is understanding how male philosophers perceive female philosophers, it would probably be valuable to read Jacquie Vorauer’s work on meta-stereotype activation. Here is an older paper and here is an abstract to a newer one that I haven’t read. I think we’ve discussed her work here before, probably more than a year ago.

    The gist of the part that interested me in the first paper was that in a relatively high status group (e.g., male philosophers), those who are high in prejudice against outgroup people (e.g., female philosophers) would expect these women to see them in terms of negative stereotypes about them, whereas the male philosophers who are low in prejudice against the females would expect the women to see them as exceptions to the negative stereotypes. In Vorauer’s study, which featured Canadians of white vs. aboriginal ancestry, rather than male and female philosophers, the outgroup members (aboriginal people) were not actually aware of the degree of prejudice among the white participants, but I do think that most female philosophers (at least around here!) are well aware of male colleagues who are exceptions to whatever stereotypes male philosophers expect the women to have about them.

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