The effect of aversive racism on mock legal decision making.
Haw, St. John Blake.
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The present study experimentally examined the effect(s) of aversive racism on mock legal decisions made by university students. The experiment adopted a 3 (Evidence quality: low, ambiguous or high) x 2 (race stereotype crime: black vs. white) x 2 (Defendant race: black vs. white) between subjects design, in which 785 black, white, Indian and coloured participants were asked to judge legal cases. The legal vignettes were piloted to ensure that low, ambiguous and high evidence conditions were clearly represented, and that the white stereotype and black stereotype crimes chosen for the research were appropriate. Participants were each given two vignettes and used 10-point scales to judge a) the guilt or innocence of the defendant(s) and b) the sentence they would recommend for the defendant(s) should they be found guilty by a court of law. Our prediction that we would find evidence for the classic aversive racism effect in this sample was not supported, and no evidence of racial bias was found. Interestingly, white participants judged the guilt of defendants more leniently than all other race groups. These results are discussed and recommendations for future research are made.
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