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Influence of Name Cues to Ethnicity on Judgments of Guilt and Sentencing
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by Jessica L. Davison, Danielle I. Schneider, Sheila Brownlow - Catawba College
Categories: Social | Cognitive | Cross-Cultural
We examined whether judgments of guilt and perceptions of criminality were influenced by subtle cues to the ethnicity of suspects: their names. Students read about the robbery-related arrest of two suspects—either William Blake/Frank Rogers or William Blake/Franco Rodriguez—and judged criminal intent and guilt, and also assigned each a sentence. Results revealed that women participants imposed slightly harsher punishments than men, but only when the accused pair included at least one Hispanic-named person. Moreover, women more than men were likely to see the accused as being more criminal, and perceptions of criminality were lower for the person named William. There were no name-related differences in sentencing or judgments of guilt. These findings suggest that when cues to egalitarian behavior are obvious, such as when determining a sentence length for two persons who are accused of the same crime, people exhibit little overt bias, but aversive bias is likely when judgments are not guided by explicit behavioral expectations.
Summer 2010 | Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research (Vol. 15, No. 2, p. 76), published by Psi Chi, The International Honor Society in Psychology (Chattanooga, TN). Copyright, 2010, Psi Chi, The International Honor Society in Psychology. All rights reserved.