Racial profiling as a consequence of the use of an affect heuristic

Warren, Mark (2006) Racial profiling as a consequence of the use of an affect heuristic. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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The current study was an attempt to establish a link between the use of an affect heuristic and racial bias in the context of a decision-making task. It was hypothesized that participants' ratings of criminality related to an alleged perpetrator of a crime, at least for participants under time-pressure, would be determined by the perpetrator's race and that this would, in turn, depend on the level of affect aroused by the crime. Two hundred participants (136 females and 64 males) read one of four possible versions of an experimenter-constructed newspaper article describing a crime and were asked to make several criminality judgements about the perpetrator. The four versions of the newspaper article differed such that the race of the alleged perpetrator (black vs. white perpetrator), as well as the affect associated with the impact on the victim (strong negative affect vs. weak negative affect) were manipulated. Also, in order to explore the possibility of heuristic information processing, half of the participants were asked to complete the experimental task before a given deadline expired while the remaining participants were given as much time as need in order to complete the experimental task. The results of the study indicate that, despite evidence for the use of an affect heuristic by participants who were under time-pressure, contrary to predictions the alleged perpetrator was rated no more unfavorably on the criminality measures when his race was black than when his race was white. The implications of the current study regarding racial profiling are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/9905
Item ID: 9905
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 49-60.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Psychology
Science, Faculty of > Psychology
Date: 2006
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Affect (Psychology); Racial profiling in law enforcement--Psychological aspects.

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