Does Collective Guilt Minimize Racial Bias in Jurors' Decisions?
Burke, Kelly C
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Racial bias is a pervasive issue in the legal system, especially when White jurors judge African American defendants. Prior research shows that White jurors in mock trial studies are biased in their verdicts, sentencing decisions, and perceptions of Black defendants. For the first time, using a mock-trial paradigm, I examined one potential method to reduce racial bias against minority defendants in the courtroom: inducing collective guilt -- the aversive feeling of guilt that individuals experience when they are made aware of the unjust or illegitimate behavior of their ingroup toward an outgroup. Collective guilt motivates people to compensate for their group’s behavior by engaging in prosocial behavior and adopting more favorable attitudes toward outgroup members. I also tested the moderating role of White identification. I predicted that those low in White identification who were (vs. were not) induced to feel collective guilt would be more lenient toward an African American (vs. White) defendant. In contrast, I expected high identifiers to be more punitive toward the Black (vs. White) defendant, regardless of whether they were or were not induced to feel collective guilt. I also predicted that, overall, people would be more lenient toward the White (vs. Black) defendant. Results did not support these hypotheses. Across most measures, mock jurors were significantly more lenient toward the Black (vs. White) defendant regardless of experimental condition. These results offer support for aversive racism theory, brought about by race salience.
SubjectJuror decision making