"Race in the Courtroom: Perceptions of Guilt and Dispositional Attributions"

Michigan Law Authors
Areas of Interest
Publish Date
2000
Publication
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Publication Type
Journal Article
Abstract

The present studies compare the judgments of White and Black mock jurors in interracial trials. In Study 1, the defendant’s race did not influence White college students’ decisions but Black students demonstrated ingroup/outgroup bias in their guilt ratings and attributions for the defendant’s behavior. The aversive nature of modern racism suggests that Whites are motivated to appear nonprejudiced when racial issues are salient; therefore, the race salience of a trial summary was manipulated and given to noncollege students in Study 2. Once again, the defendant’s race did not influence Whites when racial issues were salient. But in the non-race-salient version of the same interracial case, White mock jurors rated the Black defendant more guilty, aggressive, and violent than the White defendant. Black mock jurors demonstrated same-race leniency in both versions of the trial, suggesting that racial issues are generally salient in the minds of Black jurors in interracial cases with Black defendants.

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