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 New measure for the wellbeing of populations could replace Human Development Index
07.11.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Because not only arguments count
30.10.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik in den Naturwissenschaften (MPIMIS)

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

Im Focus: Substitute for rare earth metal oxides

New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals

Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.

Im Focus: A bit of a stretch... material that thickens as it's pulled

Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.

Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...

Im Focus: The force of the vacuum

Scientists from the Theory Department of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg have shown through theoretical calculations and computer simulations that the force between electrons and lattice distortions in an atomically thin two-dimensional superconductor can be controlled with virtual photons. This could aid the development of new superconductors for energy-saving devices and many other technical applications.

The vacuum is not empty. It may sound like magic to laypeople but it has occupied physicists since the birth of quantum mechanics.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

Expert Panel on the Future of HPC in Engineering

03.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Small but ver­sat­ile; key play­ers in the mar­ine ni­tro­gen cycle can util­ize cy­anate and urea

10.12.2018 | Life Sciences

New method gives microscope a boost in resolution

10.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Carnegie Mellon researchers probe hydrogen bonds using new technique

10.12.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>