Roseanna Sommers

Volume 89.6
Reducing Prejudice Through Law: Evidence from Experimental Psychology
Sara Emily Burke
Assistant Professor of Psychology, Syracuse University.
Roseanna Sommers
Assistant Professor of Law, University of Michigan.

We wish to thank the University of Chicago Law Review editors, as well as Becky Eisenberg, Don Herzog, J.J. Prescott, and Carl Schneider for helpful comments and suggestions. We also wish to thank Taylor Galdi, Alex Justicz, Parul Kumar, Caleigh Lin, and Julia Rubin for their research assistance. All data and materials related to this project are available online: Roseanna Sommers & Sara Emily Burke, The Legal Status of Discrimination Can Alter Personal Prejudice Against People with Depression, OPENICPSR (July 26, 2021),

Can antidiscrimination law effect changes in public attitudes toward minority groups? Could learning, for instance, that employment discrimination against people with clinical depression is legally prohibited cause members of the public to be more accepting toward people with mental health conditions? In this Article, we report the results of a series of experiments that test the effect of inducing the belief that discrimination against a given group is legal (versus illegal) on interpersonal attitudes toward members of that group. We find that learning that discrimination is unlawful does not simply lead people to believe that an employer is more likely to face punishment for discriminatory behavior.