SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

We review sociological, correlational, and experimental research that examines the effect of a target's race on the decision to shoot. Much of this work involves computer-based simulations of a police encounter, in which a participant must decide whether or not to shoot a potentially hostile target who is either Black or White. Experimental work with undergraduate participants reveals a clear pattern of bias (a tendency to shoot Black targets but not Whites), which is associated with stereotypes linking Blacks with the concept of danger. Subsequent work with police officers presents a more complex pattern. Although police are affected by target race in some respects, they generally do not show a biased pattern of shooting. We suggest that police performance depends on the exercise of cognitive control, which allows officers to overcome the influence of stereotypes, and we conclude with potential implications of this research for law enforcement.