New Books in the Arts & Sciences:
Celebrating Recent Work by Brendan O'Flaherty and Rajiv Sethi
Shadows of Doubt: Stereotypes, Crime, and the Pursuit of Justice
By: Brendan O'Flaherty and Rajiv Sethi
Shadows of Doubt reveals how deeply stereotypes distort our interactions, shape crime, and deform the criminal justice system.
If you’re a robber, how do you choose your victims? As a police officer, how afraid are you of the young man you’re about to arrest? As a judge, do you think the suspect in front of you will show up in court if released from pretrial detention? As a juror, does the defendant seem guilty to you? Your answers may depend on the stereotypes you hold, and the stereotypes you believe others hold. In this provocative, pioneering book, economists Brendan O’Flaherty and Rajiv Sethi explore how stereotypes can shape the ways crimes unfold and how they contaminate the justice system through far more insidious, pervasive, and surprising paths than we have previously imagined.
Crime and punishment occur under extreme uncertainty. Offenders, victims, police officers, judges, and jurors make high-stakes decisions with limited information, under severe time pressure. With compelling stories and extensive data on how people act as they try to commit, prevent, or punish crimes, O’Flaherty and Sethi reveal the extent to which we rely on stereotypes as shortcuts in our decision making.
Sometimes it’s simple: Robbers tend to target those they stereotype as being more compliant. Other interactions display a complex and sometimes tragic interplay of assumptions: “If he thinks I’m dangerous, he might shoot. I’ll shoot first.” Shadows of Doubt shows how deeply stereotypes are implicated in the most controversial criminal justice issues of our time, and how a clearer understanding of their effects can guide us toward a more just society.
About the Authors:
Brendan O’Flaherty is Professor of Economics at Columbia University. He studies urban economics in relation to homelessness and crime. He has been teaching at Columbia for over thirty years and previously served as aide to Kenneth Gibson, Newark's first African-American mayor .His books include The Economics of Race in the United States and City Economics.
Rajiv Sethi is a Professor of Economics at Barnard College, Columbia University and an External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute. He has previously held visiting positions at Microsoft Research in New York City, and at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is on the editorial boards of the American Economic Review and Economics and Philosophy. He is also a founding member of CORE (Curriculum Open-Access Resources for Economics), a group of scholars engaged in the production of high-quality resources for the teaching of economics, distributed free of charge worldwide under a Creative Commons license. The first book-length publication by this group is The Economy, available at www.core-econ.org.
About the Speakers:
Valerie Purdie Greenaway serves as Director for the Laboratory of Intergroup Relations and the Social Mind (LIRSM) at Columbia University. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University, core faculty for the Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholars Program (RWJ Columbia-site), and research fellow at the Institute for Research on African-American Studies (IRAAS) at Columbia. Dr. Purdie Greenaway has authored numerous publications that have appeared in journals such as Science, Psychological Science, and Journal of Personality & Social Psychology.
Suresh Naidu teaches economics, political economy and development at Columbia University as Professor in Economics and International and Public Affairs. His most recent publications have featured in journals including the Journal of Economic History and Journal of Political Economy.
Carla Shedd is Associate Professor in the Urban Education PhD Program at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is the author of Unequal City: Race, Schools, and Perceptions of Injustice (Russell Sage Foundation, 2015), among other publications.
Miguel Urquiola is Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics at Columbia University. He is also a member of the faculty of the School of International and Public Affairs, and of the Columbia Committee on the Economics of Education. He has been most recently published in journals including Annual Review of Economics and American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.
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