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