Like any good American citizen, Taylor Swift shows up for jury duty. And like anyone with a healthy sense of respect for the legal system, she won’t let personal experience obstruct the path of justice. Upon being questioned as a prospective juror in an aggravated assault/kidnapping case Monday morning in a Nashville court, Swift stated that she could not be impartial because she’d been a victim of sexual assault in the past, and so she got a free pass to leave.
Some psychologists would argue that Tay could have skipped the jury selection process altogether because the assumption on which it rests is flawed: Impartiality, asserts Adam Alter, Ph.D., a marketing professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business in a 2010 article for Psychology Today, is simply an illusion.
Many researchers have found evidence to back up Alter’s claim. One study, published in the journal Psychological Science in 2013, found that forensic and psychiatric experts working as consultants in real-life court situations were biased by the side that paid them, and the results of another study, published this year in PLoS One, suggested that forensic psychologists who do capital casework might be more likely to support capital punishment than those who pass on those cases.
In his article, Alter insists that no human is capable of perceiving the world without some kind of bias, explaining that part of the problem is that we’re also really good at cleverly hiding those biases:
The truth is that no human—Supreme Court justice or otherwise—is impartial. … It’s not enough to want to be impartial; our biases are so well hidden that we’re destined to be partisan as long as we’re motivated to promote one conclusion over its alternatives.
Once again, Swift has managed to demonstrate that, despite her cultural omnipotence, she’s actually just like us. But what makes this a total Taylor move is that she managed to appear like a totally normal person while maintaining her otherworldly death grip on the media, which otherwise would have required her to attend the Kanye West-filled MTV VMAs Sunday night. Taylor, the queen bee of psychological manipulation, is always one step of ahead of game.
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