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This is what you expected, no? Biases toward blaming for the bad and against giving credit for the good (when coupled with the belief that people cannot be justly credited or blamed for innate traits) would explain the divergence. The convergence (when the disparity is made salient) is a testament to the power of reflection and the need for coherence. Nice study.

Katy Abramson

Three thoughts:
(1) small, & serious: it suggests to me that for the scientists polled, on average, "innate" is not functioning as a technical term (as one might expect it would). Did you do any sorting amongst types of scientists, e.g., distinguishing psychologists and linguists on the one hand, from biologists and neuroscientists on the other hand? Or calculating results within individual scientific fields (as divided, say, by the academe today?)
(2) glib, and not so serious: well, perhaps "innate" is today what "natural" was (still is, largely) in the eighteenth century, i.e. not helpful as a concept. at best.
(3) Not enough info about the study to know whether this can be a serious question: If these results turn out to be relatively robust, I wonder if such queries could be used to exposed hidden bias. E.g. poll folks who avow commitment to lbgtq equality about whether, under relevantly similar scenarios, they would think sexual orientation/gender identity 'innate', and then see what happens...

jonathan weinberg

Neat paper, y'all!

Katy (hi Katy!), I'm not sure that your suggestion would work on the particular case of sexual orientation and innateness, because there's _so_ much explicit discussion out there already of whether or not sexuality is chosen or immutable, that that might swamp any implicit Knobe-type effects on judgments of innateness regarding sexual orientation. But the way that this study makes use of the conjunction fallacy to see what characteristics people think match up with typical members of a given category, could be used for the same sort of purpose:

It looks like the authors in that particular paper were focused more using homosexuality as more something to contrast with atheism. In short, they find reason to think that religious folks are disgusted by, but not particularly distrustful of, homosexuals, and vice versa for atheists. (See fig 1). The conjunction fallacy stuff in particular is in study 3. It would be easy to see how to extend this research paradigm to explore implicit attitudes towards homosexuality more generally.

h/t NewAPPS

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3QD Prize 2012: Wesley Buckwalter