Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Readers’ memories of crime stories influenced by racial stereotypes

05.05.2004


If asked to imagine a criminal suspect, certain mental pictures come to mind for most people. According to a recent Penn State study concerning people’s memory of news photographs, images that accentuate African-American facial features would be common, and particularly if the crime is violent rather than non-violent.



"Our data suggest that when reading news about violent crime, people seem to unconsciously recall images associated with African-Americans, reflecting the influence of stereotypes on memory," says Dr. Mary Beth Oliver, associate professor of media studies in the University’s College of Communications.

In the study, the researchers asked 163 undergraduate college students, of whom 147 were White, to examine one of four types of news stories, all about a hypothetical Black man with a fictitious name. The first, about a college professor winning an award, did not contain stereotypical metaphors or language. The second, regarding a basketball player, was stereotyped but not about crime. The third story, regarding embezzlement from a union, dealt with non-violent crime, while the fourth focused on violent crime, specifically a burglary-murder. All four stories included an identical photograph of the same man.


"Subsequent to reading the story, participants reconstructed the photograph of the individual by selecting from a series of facial features (i.e. noses, mouths, skin tones) presented on a computer screen," Oliver says. "Although selected features did not differ from the actual photograph in the non-stereotyped and stereotyped/non-crime conditions, selected facial features for the crime stories featured more pronounced African-American than European-American features, particularly for the story concerning violent crime."

Furthermore, readers appeared largely unaware of their associations of violent crime with the physical characteristics of African-Americans, Oliver notes. The associations were present among the participants regardless of their self-reported racial attitudes.

"We believe our results are noteworthy the importance of visual information in a variety of law-enforcement scenarios," Oliver says. "If African-American features are stereotypically associated with crime, this has implications for identifications in line-ups, for racial profiling, and for criminal prosecutions, among many other types of situations."

Oliver is lead author of the article, "The Face of Crime: Viewers’ Memory of Race-Related Facial Features of Individuals Pictured in the News," which appeared recently in the Journal of Communication. Her co-authors are: Dr. Ronald Jackson II, associate professor of communication arts; and Nididi Moses and Celnisha L. Dangerfield, both former graduate students at Penn State.

"Given that people report that news is their most important source of crime information, it’s imperative that we look further at how viewers’ interpretations and memory of crime news can act to sustain racism," Oliver says. "The idea that this type of stereotyping may occur largely outside of viewers’ awareness will make it particularly challenging to curb these kinds of responses."

Paul Blaum | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psu.edu/

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Sibling differences: Later-borns choose less prestigious programs at university
14.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung

nachricht Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ
09.11.2017 | Vanderbilt University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Antarctic landscape insights keep ice loss forecasts on the radar

20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Filling the gap: High-latitude volcanic eruptions also have global impact

20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Water world

20.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>