Award Date

2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Department

Psychology

Advisor 1

Murray Millar, Committee Chair

First Committee Member

Kimberly Barchard

Second Committee Member

Terry Knapp

Third Committee Member

Charles Rasmussen

Graduate Faculty Representative

Mark Guadagnoli

Number of Pages

193

Abstract

A race stereotypic crime is a crime that most people tend to associate with a certain race. This is a type of racial bias that affects juror decision making by undermining the presumption of innocence and lowering the prosecution's burden of proof. Two studies investigated race stereotypic crimes. Study 1 used a new scale to identify race stereotypic crimes for black, Hispanic, and white males. Study 2 used a mock juror paradigm with a realistic stimulus and sensitive measures to focus on the influence of this type of bias on mock juror decision making. Study 1: Participants were 143 undergraduate students divided into 3 groups. Group 1 evaluated a Hispanic target, group 2 a black target, and group 3 a white target. The dependent measure was the Crime Probability Scale, a list of 20 different crimes with a probability scale for each crime. All participants rated on a 0-100% scale the probability that the target would commit each of the crimes listed. Results revealed that vehicle theft is a Hispanic and black stereotypic crime, welfare fraud and illegally entering the United States are Hispanic stereotypic crimes, and robbery is a black stereotypic crime. No white stereotypic crimes were identified. Study 2: Participants were 144 undergraduate students divided into 3 groups. Group 1 judged a black defendant, group 2 a white defendant, and group 3 a Hispanic defendant. The stimulus was a realistic summary of a criminal trial for vehicle theft. The dependant measures were the verdict (guilty or not guilty), the Confidence in the Verdict Scale wherein participants rated their confidence in their verdict on a 0-100% scale, and the Guilt Index which was computed by multiplying the value of the verdict (1 for guilty and -1 for not guilty) by the score on the confidence scale. Participants acted as jurors and responded individually. Results revealed that only 24 defendants were judged guilty: 6 black defendants, 13 white defendants, and 5 Hispanic defendants. Analysis of the Guilt Index data revealed that, although all races of defendant were generally perceived to be not guilty, participants judged the white defendant to be less innocent than the black and Hispanic defendants. Results did not agree with past research on race stereotypic crimes. For Study 1, this was probably because Study 1 measured the concept in a new and more sensitive way (a percentage scale). In Study 2, the stimulus may not have been balanced (the evidence for the prosecution may have been too weak), or the provision of more information about the defendant and the use of judicial instructions may have negated the race stereotypic bias.

Keywords

Black defendants; Crime; Decision-making; Ethnicity; Hispanic; Jurors; Race; Stereotype; White defendants

Disciplines

Ethnic Studies | Law | Social Psychology

Language

English


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