Linda Demaine, 3:00 PM – 3:50 PM, Friday, June 24th
The goal of the present project is to contribute to the existing literature on why victims of cults often are attributed great responsibility for the loss they sustained when they actually exerted little control over the environment in which their loss occurred.
The project investigates the ways in which we as a society tend to conceive of harm and how we treat persons who we conclude have suffered harm. Some harms are generally considered to have a stronger impact on the person than other harms. At times, these conclusions are accurate, yet in other instances the magnitude of the harm is over- or under-estimated. Some harms are more socially accepted than other harms, for example, because they derive from certain sources or happened in particular ways. Some harms are readily visible whereas others are more difficult to identify, rendering the latter more suspect and less accurately assessed even when acknowledged. These and related demarcations are important, because we commonly feel great sympathy toward victims of certain types of harm yet show a propensity to further injure other victims by placing unwarranted blame on them. The latter victims endure not only the original traumatic experience but layered on that an unjustified degree of responsibility for the outcome.
The project considers the underlying psychological bases for the victim derogation phenomenon and explores the degree to which they manifest in the legal system’s willingness to recognize and vindicate different types of harm. It then applies this perspective to help explain victim derogation in the cultic context.
Professor of Law
Arizona State University, College of Law
Linda J. Demaine, JD, PhD (social psychology), is Professor of Law and Affiliate Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University. She is founder and director of ASU’s Law and Psychology Graduate Program. Before arriving at ASU, Dr. Demaine was a behavioral scientist and policy analyst at RAND, where she led and participated in diverse projects, including an analysis of biotechnology patents and the strategic use of deception and other psychological principles in defense of critical computer networks. Dr. Demaine has held an American Psychological Association Congressional Fellowship, through which she worked with the Senate Judiciary Committee on FBI and DOJ oversight, judicial nominations, and legislation. She has also held an American Psychological Association Science Policy Fellowship, working with the Central Intelligence Agency’s Behavioral Sciences Unit on issues involving cross-cultural persuasion. Dr. Demaine’s research interests include the empirical analysis of law, legal procedure, and legal decision making; the application of legal and psychological perspectives to social issues; ethical, legal, and social issues deriving from advances in technology; and information campaigns and persuasion.