Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

"Mere Presence" Of A Black Face Can Lead People To Mistake Objects For Weapons More Often, Study Says

Date:
May 21, 2001
Source:
Washington University In St. Louis
Summary:
Recent police shootings of unarmed blacks have spurred racial tensions and fueled a raging debate over such issues as racial profiling and harassment. While no one knows what lies behind a police officer's split-second decision to fire at a fleeing suspect, a new study from Washington University in St. Louis suggests that race could well be a significant factor in such decisions.

St. Louis, May 16, 2001 -- Recent police shootings of unarmed blacks have spurred racial tensions and fueled a raging debate over such issues as racial profiling and harassment. While no one knows what lies behind a police officer's split-second decision to fire at a fleeing suspect, a new study from Washington University in St. Louis suggests that race could well be a significant factor in such decisions.

"Although nearly everyone would agree that stereotypes influence our thoughts about other people, it is surprising to most people that the mere presence of a black person's face can cause people to misperceive an object as a weapon," said Keith Payne, study author and a doctoral student at Washington University.

Scheduled for publication in the August issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the study investigates the influence of racial cues on the perceptual identification of weapons.

Participants were presented with an array of images that included photos of blacks and whites and either tools or weapons. When shown a series of photos showing black faces, participants were much faster to identify later images of weapons. Those primed with a selection of white faces were faster to identify non-threatening images, such as tools. And, when the experiment was speeded up to require more rapid responses, participants misidentified tools as guns more often when primed with a black face than when primed with a white face.

"The fact that this effect is "automatic" in the sense that people cannot "turn it off" even when they try is striking and disturbing," Payne said.

Participants in the study were all students ages 19-24 attending a private university in the Midwest. Most of the study participants were white; none were black.

"When we hear about mistaken police shootings of unarmed blacks, it's easy to jump to the conclusion that the shooter was some sort of raging bigot," Payne said. "This study is surprising because it shows that racial biases are difficult to control even among relatively well educated, open-minded and liberal college students."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington University In St. Louis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Washington University In St. Louis. ""Mere Presence" Of A Black Face Can Lead People To Mistake Objects For Weapons More Often, Study Says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 May 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010521072157.htm>.
Washington University In St. Louis. (2001, May 21). "Mere Presence" Of A Black Face Can Lead People To Mistake Objects For Weapons More Often, Study Says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010521072157.htm
Washington University In St. Louis. ""Mere Presence" Of A Black Face Can Lead People To Mistake Objects For Weapons More Often, Study Says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010521072157.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) A study for University College London suggests obese people who are discriminated against gain more weight than those who are not. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins