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The Effects of Exposure to Crime Reports on Perceptions of Minority Criminal Involvement
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by Tom Carmony - Pacific Lutheran University
The effects of exposure to a newspaper crime report on individuals' perceptions of minority arrest rates were investigated. Data were collected through a 22-item questionnaire administered to 154 undergraduate students. Contrary to expectations, exposure to a crime report was not found to significantly affect participants' estimates of minority arrest rates. A second hypothesis, that participants would tend to overestimate arrest rates for minorities and underestimate arrest rates for Caucasians, was partially supported; arrest rates of Caucasians and African Americans were generally underestimated whereas rates for Native Americans and Asian Americans were overestimated. Additional findings of interest were the significant correlations between participants' estimated arrest rates for a variety of ethnic groups and their U.S. population estimates for those ethnicities. Implications and avenues for future research are discussed.