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Reducing White Juror Bias: The Role of Race Salience and Racial Attitudes1

Authors


  • 1

    This research was partially funded by a grant to the third author from the University of New Hampshire Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. Portions of this research were the Senior Honors Thesis of the third author. The authors thank Erin Goforth and Clinton Jenkin for their comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.

Ellen S. Cohn, Department of Psychology, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824. E-mail: ellen.cohn@unh.edu

Abstract

Both Black and White jurors exhibit a racial bias by being more likely to find defendants of a different race guilty than defendants who are of the same race. Sommers & Ellsworth (2000, 2001) found that salient racial issues in a trial reduced White juror racial bias toward a Black defendant. We examined if race salience could reduce White juror racial bias, even for individuals who reported high levels of racism. Making race salient reduced White juror racial bias toward a Black defendant. Jurors' racist beliefs were only associated with the verdict when the defendant's race was not made salient. This finding suggests that the effects of individual prejudice toward a Black defendant can be reduced by making the defendant's race salient.

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