Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Criminal Justice

First Committee Member

Terance Miethe

Second Committee Member

Joel Lieberman

Third Committee Member

William Sousa

Fourth Committee Member

Robert Futrell

Number of Pages



This study examines the effects of priming, situational factors, and attitudes on deadly force decision making. A small sample of undergraduates completed high-fidelity deadly force simulations. Simulation results were compared across experimental conditions and various attitudinal and demographic factors. Participants were generally accurate when assessing the threat posed by suspects. Participants primed to expect a threat were more accurate in their decisions but were no more likely to shoot an unarmed suspect. Participants were more accurate when responding to unarmed suspects. Participants more likely to exhibit implicit bias were less accurate. Several attitudinal and demographic traits were associated with deadly force decision accuracy, including gender, race, fear of crime, institutional confidence, approval of use of force, motivation to control prejudice, firearm experience, and experience with first-person shooter video games. Qualitative comparative analysis of variables suggests that, within the context of the simulations employed in this study, the threat indicated by the dispatch message was more important to the resulting decision than the suspect’s race. The results are then discussed in relation to the existing literature and in the context of social identity theory.


Deadly Force; Experimental Criminology; High-Fidelity Simulations; Implicit Bias; Qualitatative Comparative Analysis; Social Identity Theory


Criminology | Criminology and Criminal Justice

File Format


File Size

712 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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