Panel Paper: Measuring Attitudes about Racial Profiling: Implicit Stereotypes and Explicit Preferences

Saturday, November 10, 2012 : 3:30 PM
Schaefer (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Karin Martin, Univ. California, Berkeley and Jack Glaser, University of California, Berkeley

Prior research has established the ubiquity of implicit stereotypes about racial minorities and evidence of racial profiling regularly emerges. However, the empirical link between implicit attitudes and explicit policy preferences has yet to be forged. To bridge this gap, we developed the first multi-item scale to measure attitudes toward racial profiling, and an innovative measure of explicit (intentional) racial profiling.  Through laboratory experiments, we explored the relationship between these explicit attitudes and intentional behaviors and measures of implicit (nonconscious) attitudes about race, crime, and weapons using the Go/No-go Association Task. We find that explicit attitudes about racial profiling are associated both with implicit stereotypes and with misestimates of the likelihood of offending within various racial groups. This project contributes to our understanding of a perennial law enforcement issue and suggests that support for policies and practices like the use of race in criminal profiles is at least partly determined by the very cognitive biases that give rise to more spontaneous forms of racial profiling.