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Title:Effects of Social Stereotypes on Evidence Processing: The Cognitive Basis of Discrimination in Juridic Decision Making
Author(s):Bodenhausen, Galen Von
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Social
Sociology, Criminology and Penology
Abstract:Subjects in two experiments judged the culpability of a defendant accused of criminal assault. In some cases the defendant was a member of a stereotyped minority group, and in others he was not. Experiment 1 revealed that stereotypes affected judgments of the defendant's guilt when they were activated before other case evidence but not when they were activated afterward. The effects of stereotypes on guilt judgments were contingent upon the nature of other available information about the defendant's character. When no other information was available, stereotyped defendants were judged more harshly than nondescript ones. When the defendant was described as aggressive, no differences were observed as a function of whether or not a stereotype had been activated. When the defendant was described as nonaggressive, the activation of a stereotype resulted in more lenient judgments. Recall data suggested that when the stereotype and the explicit character information were introduced before the other evidence, subjects used the implications of this more general person information as a guide in processing the subsequently encountered evidence. Specifically, they remembered more of the evidence that was consistent with the implications of the person information (and less of the inconsistent evidence) than did subjects who were given no general person information. These results support the hypothesis that the discriminatory effects of stereotypes arise because they lead subjects to selectively process the other evidence, paying more attention to stereotype-consistent evidence. The alternative possibilities that stereotypic inferences serve as independent information in the judgment process and that stereotypes affect the interpretation given to specific pieces of evidence were not supported. Experiment 2 provided further evidence of selective processing and revealed that the presentation of judgment-irrelevant character information did not reduce the effect of stereotypes, even when it contradicted stereotypic expectations. It was concluded that individuation of minority defendants is not easily accomplished and that stereotypes may prevent such defendants from being evaluated independently of potentially erroneous generalizations about their social group.
Issue Date:1987
Description:150 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1987.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8802985
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1987

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