Presentation (Project) Title

Are Verdicts Often Black and White? Determining Racial Bias in Juror Decision Making

Mentor Information

Christine Ruva (Psychology)

Presentation Format

Event

Abstract

A significant concern to the justice system is that jurors could find defendants guilty when in fact, they are not. Implicit racial bias is of concern because it can facilitate such an error. Although the Supreme Court has tried to remedy explicit racial bias (Batson v. Kentucky, 1986), they have failed to address implicit biases. In order to address debiasing, it is important to determine an initial bias. Past meta-analyses have found differing effects of defendant race on guilt (Mazella & Feingold, 1994; Mitchell et al., 2005). Dual process theory and aversive racism theory were applied to identify a trial situation where bias was likely to occur (Chaiken, 1980; Ingriselli, 2015). This study explored the effect of defendant race on guilt in the context of a murder trial to determine its suitability for a debiasing study. It was hypothesized that the Black defendant would be found more culpable, less credible, and guilty more often in comparison to the White defendant. A Qualtrics survey was used to collect data and randomly assign participants to view a Black or White defendant in a murder trial. Participants (N=206; female=152; age ranged 18 to 39, M=20.40, SD=3.26; race/ethnicity—44.2% White, 31.6% Hispanic, 11.7% Black, 6.8% Asian, 5.7% Other). Contrary to the hypothesis, the White defendant was viewed as more culpable, less credible, and more likely to receive a guilty verdict. This study is a part of a greater undertaking on debiasing and will help inform the interpretation of future analyses on a debiasing intervention.

Streaming Media

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 

Are Verdicts Often Black and White? Determining Racial Bias in Juror Decision Making

A significant concern to the justice system is that jurors could find defendants guilty when in fact, they are not. Implicit racial bias is of concern because it can facilitate such an error. Although the Supreme Court has tried to remedy explicit racial bias (Batson v. Kentucky, 1986), they have failed to address implicit biases. In order to address debiasing, it is important to determine an initial bias. Past meta-analyses have found differing effects of defendant race on guilt (Mazella & Feingold, 1994; Mitchell et al., 2005). Dual process theory and aversive racism theory were applied to identify a trial situation where bias was likely to occur (Chaiken, 1980; Ingriselli, 2015). This study explored the effect of defendant race on guilt in the context of a murder trial to determine its suitability for a debiasing study. It was hypothesized that the Black defendant would be found more culpable, less credible, and guilty more often in comparison to the White defendant. A Qualtrics survey was used to collect data and randomly assign participants to view a Black or White defendant in a murder trial. Participants (N=206; female=152; age ranged 18 to 39, M=20.40, SD=3.26; race/ethnicity—44.2% White, 31.6% Hispanic, 11.7% Black, 6.8% Asian, 5.7% Other). Contrary to the hypothesis, the White defendant was viewed as more culpable, less credible, and more likely to receive a guilty verdict. This study is a part of a greater undertaking on debiasing and will help inform the interpretation of future analyses on a debiasing intervention.