Psychological Reactions to Crime News Portrayals of Black Criminals: Understanding the Moderating Roles of Prior News Viewing and Stereotype Endorsement

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Abstract:

An experiment examined the extent to which viewers' death penalty application, perceptions of crime danger, and culpability assessments could be influenced by exposure to a majority of Black suspects in the news or having the race of suspects go unidentified in a newscast. The current study also investigated the extent to which prior news viewing and African American stereotype endorsement might moderate the effects of this racialized crime news exposure. After exposure to a majority of Black suspects or unidentified suspects in a newscast, African American stereotype endorsers were more likely than stereotype rejecters to support the death penalty. Furthermore, heavy television news viewers exposed to a majority of Black suspects were more likely than light news viewers to perceive the world as dangerous and view a race-unidentified suspect as culpable for his offense. The theoretical implications of these findings are discussed in light of social cognition theories of priming, cognitive accessibility, stereotype activation and application.

Keywords: African Americans; Crime News; Media Effects; News; Priming; Social Cognition; Stereotyping

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03637750600690643

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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