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Clueless White People

July 23, 2013

From Wonkblog:

In a series of survey experiments we found that when whites with negative stereotypes of African Americans were asked about black (versus white) perpetrators, they were much more likely to judge blacks as guilty of the alleged crimes, assume blacks would commit more crimes in the future, and favor much harsher punishments for black than white suspects.

In another survey experiment, we manipulated race in a more subtle way: with a single phrase, “inner city,” that carries strong racial connotations. A random half of white respondents was asked about spending money for prisons (versus anti-poverty programs) to lock up “violent criminals,” while the other half was asked about “violent inner city criminals.”  As expected, whites’ racial stereotypes were much more important in boosting support for prisons to lock up criminals in the inner city.

In another study, we set up survey experiments where we randomly presented white and black respondents with different arguments against the death penalty and three-strikes laws to see what effect the arguments had on their opinions of such policies. The major finding of the experiments is still shocking. When whites were presented with an argument against the death penalty or three strikes that emphasized the racial bias of the policy, they became more (not less) supportive of capital punishment and three strikes laws.

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