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Post Hoc Interventions - A Novel Approach to Prejudice Mitigation

Theme 2022

Sexism, racism and other kinds of prejudice still shape modern society and give rise to various forms of discrimination. Meanwhile, scientific studies have not been able to handily identify effective methods for combating prejudice. The Theme therefore investigates the conditions for "post hoc interventions": methods to address prejudiced behaviour after the event, without presuming to create prejudice-free individuals.

Current research on combating prejudice is overwhelmingly focused on preventive measures. These measures aim to prevent the occurrence of prejudiced behaviour, either through structural measures that change the circumstances in which the behaviour arises (e.g. through anonymisation of criterion-based decision-making) or individual interventions that attempt to change the prejudiced persons themselves (e.g. through education or training). These types of interventions are not without merit, but many of them have not been studied in realistic environments or subjected to sufficient experimental testing, which makes their effectiveness unclear.

This Theme will investigate "post hoc interventions", as a possible complement to preventive measures. Post hoc interventions are based on the idea that certain forms of prejudiced behaviour – in particular prejudiced evaluation – can be corrected after the event. The idea is that the outcome of prejudiced behaviour (e.g. a prejudiced evaluation) can be corrected after it has been produced, but before it results in discrimination. The correction occurs through a statistical analysis of the evaluator’s history of prejudiced evaluation. Post hoc interventions focus on prejudiced behaviours, rather than the people who produce them. Although post hoc interventions only affect some of the ways in which prejudice is expressed, it is still important to investigate its potential, as these interventions are relevant in a broad spectrum of situations (e.g. in employment, admission and evaluation) that are important both in relation to how money and power are allocated in society, and how the members of the groups concerned are integrated in society on a more general level.

The Theme aims to discuss interconnected legal, ethical, epistemological and statistical issues, and systematically compare post hoc interventions for combatting prejudice with existing methods in social psychology and computer science. The Theme gathers researchers from the all the subjects above to approach these issues together, and contribute to an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas about post hoc interventions in particular, and about related interventions against prejudice more generally.

Further, the Theme also aims at forming a basis for an interdisciplinary research network on prejudice research at Lund University.